Catapult partners with Kepler Communications to accelerate growth in Low Earth Orbit telecommunications services
10 July 2018: The Satellite Applications Catapult, a UK space innovation company, has signed an agreement with Kepler Communications, to deliver the final prototype satellite for Kepler’s game-changing constellation of 140 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communications satellites.
Customers across a breadth of industries need a truly global, standardized, and affordable communications network capable of seamlessly connecting devices across regions and borders. Satellites represent the only viable means of addressing this need for global connectivity. The Kepler constellation will directly address this barrier to innovation and potentially unlocks a service capability for Kepler estimated at around £71 million ($94 million) by 2022.
Seamless connectivity remains a challenge for many IoT developers, solution providers, businesses, and governments alike whose needs, despite the latest advancements in wireless technology, are still largely unmet. Widespread terrestrial cellular infrastructure has many variations in frequency bands and network technology, which creates a barrier when solution providers seek to deliver globally-connected products. Compared with traditional geostationary satellites, orbiting at 36,000 km, Kepler’s new LEO constellation is specifically designed to facilitate the development of products and services that provide affordable access to connectivity for global IoT applications.
With the support of the In-Orbit Demonstration Programme, Kepler will launch their prototype constellation satellite “TARS” in the summer of 2019. TARS follows the successful launch of KIPP on 19 January 2018 and CASE which is scheduled for launch this summer.
TARS will expand on the capabilities of KIPP and CASE and will deliver narrow-band connectivity services for Internet of Things applications, accelerating Kepler’s ability to test initial proof-of-concept service delivery with customers. TARS is planned as the final prototype satellite before Kepler begins rolling out its GEN1 constellation in late 2019.
The new IOD partnership will see Kepler build a UK supply chain for their new satellite constellation and a European sales operation based in the UK to work with UK technology partners to develop innovative products and services making use of its global satcom solution. These activities will provide a direct economic benefit to the UK.
Announcing the partnership, Stuart Martin, CEO, Satellite Applications Catapult said:
“Global connectivity is critical to innovation and economic growth. We need to address current gaps in service if we are to achieve our bold ambitions for a digital economy underpinned by the Internet of Things. Kepler’s constellation addresses this challenge and their network provides a blank canvas on which UK companies will be able to build added value services. Kepler is committed to investing in the UK, and we are committed to growing this partnership and supporting them to accelerate the downstream service opportunities.”
Jeffrey Osborne, VP of Business Development, Kepler Communications said:
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Kepler as well as an opportunity to further strengthen ties between the Canadian and UK space sectors. The IOD will help us to accelerate Kepler’s ability to bring our connectivity solution to market, while simultaneously improving the linkage between the Canadian and UK high-tech ecosystems.”
The In-Orbit Demonstration Programme (IOD) is managed by the Satellite Applications Catapult and funded by Innovate UK and the UK Space Agency. IOD is designed to accelerate the ability of companies to design, build and launch a mission within 12 to 18 months. By reducing the cost of accessing space, each mission provides a critical in-space testbed helping companies de-risk their service attracting customers and stimulating investment.
Three missions in the IOD programme are still available to companies or consortium who can demonstrate the commercial potential of their service and a route to market.