Space

Open Cosmos selected to build Spanish smallsat constellation

WASHINGTON — Spanish startup Sateliot on July 28 selected Open Cosmos to build and operate a constellation of up to 100 small satellites, but stopped short of a firm contract for the full system. 

Sateliot is raising funds to build the constellation, designed to connect sensors and devices from low-Earth orbit. The company has raised 2.4 million euros ($2.8 million) since forming in 2018, and hopes to raise a 7-million-euro Series A this year to fund three demonstration satellites, Sateliot chief executive Jaume Sanpera told SpaceNews.

Sateliot estimates it needs $35 million to deploy an initial 16 satellites by the end of 2022, he said, not counting the demonstration satellites. An exact amount for 100 satellites has not been determined, he said. 

Open Cosmos of Harwell, United Kingdom, is under contract to build two demonstration satellites for Sateliot, said Rafel Jordá, founder and chief executive of Open Cosmos. 

The first satellite is a 3U cubesat scheduled to launch late this year, Jordá said. A form factor for the second demonstration satellite has not been finalized, he said. 

Sanpera said that while Sateliot chose Open Cosmos for its first two prototypes and subsequent constellation, it will openly compete its third prototype with other manufacturers. 

Open Cosmos builds cubesats and smallsats up to 50 kilograms, but its business model centers on turnkey solutions for customers, Jordá said. For Sateliot, the company is arranging launches, ground station communications and insurance, and will operate the satellites in addition to building them, he said. 

Jorda said Open Cosmos anticipates receiving manufacturing orders in phases from Sateliot rather than a bulk order for 100 satellites. 

“We are already working with Sateliot towards the next phase of the deployment after the demonstration,” he said. 

Sateliot is designing its satellites to fill gaps for 5G mobile network operators, providing roaming services for sensors and devices on trucks, precision agriculture equipment, clean energy infrastructure and other sectors, Sanpera said. The company signed an unfunded memorandum of understanding with the European Space Agency in January to collaborate on integrating space and terrestrial 5G solutions. 

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