Eutelsat to launch 25 nano-satellites
September 24, 2019
By Chris Forrester
Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat has supplied extra detail for its upcoming nano-satellite fleet dedicated to the Internet of Things. The new fleet of 25 of these very small satellites is being called ‘ELO’ and the first demonstration craft should launch early in 2020.
The constellation’s first four operational satellites will be developed under the supervision of Loft Orbital and Clyde Space.
Eutelsat is in a partnership with IoT network operator and service provider Sigfox and which will “enable unparalleled integration between terrestrial and satellite networks” claims Eutelsat.
Eutelsat said the construction of this nanosatellite constellation will begin with a first series of four satellites from Loft Orbital (ELO 1 and 2) and Clyde Space (ELO 3 and 4). With expected launch dates between 2020 and 2021, these four satellites will enter commercial service as soon as they are delivered into orbit. If this new initiative proves successful, other satellites will be added to the constellation, to reach a total of 25 satellites operational by 2022. The investment required for the constellation is included in Eutelsat’s existing Capex outlook. The cost associated with each satellite will not exceed €1 million.
This constellation project follows on from an initial nanosatellite ordered by Eutelsat from Tyvak International last year. Planned for launch early next year, the objective of this test satellite will be to confirm the technical performance of various waveforms between a satellite in low Earth orbit and objects on the ground.
Low Earth orbit is particularly suited for processing signals emitted by connected objects as it offers a ubiquitous satellite link, complementing terrestrial IoT networks, without increasing the cost or energy consumption of these objects.
Eutelsat has signed a strategic partnership with leading IoT player Sigfox, which runs a unique global narrowband network dedicated to this segment across 65 countries. Based on hybrid connected objects, whose data can be captured by both terrestrial networks and satellite, Sigfox will integrate the global coverage provided by the ELO constellation into its existing range of IoT connectivity services. This enhanced network coverage will open the door to many new use cases in areas like maritime transportation or logistics, but also the safety of people in emergency situations.
Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat commented: “We are delighted to be completing the first steps of our ELO constellation project, aimed at positioning Eutelsat in the nascent IoT segment. Our partnership with Sigfox enables worldwide coverage through the combination of satellite and terrestrial IoT. This relatively modest investment at Group level, which is fully scalable, enables Eutelsat to access an additional potential growth lever in the context of its Connectivity strategy.”