Barcelona company to launch satellite constellation that connects the most isolated

The company, Sateliot, aims to have a total of 256 satellites in low Earth orbit by 2025.
Chris Young
A stock image of a nano satellite.
A stock image of a nano satellite.

iStock / Rick_Jo 

This week, Barcelona-based company Sateliot will launch its first satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission.

The private firm aims to lift a small constellation into low Earth orbit (LEO) to give customers enough coverage to allow them to send text messages from remote locations.

Mountaineers, for example, would be able to send a message in an emergency, and people who are stranded could also seek help.

SpaceX to launch Sateliot's first satellite

The launch of Sateliot's first satellite, called Groundbreaker, will be the first of five missions to send a satellite into LEO for the space company as part of the first phase of its operations. By next year, Sateliot plans to have 64 satellites in orbit. And by 2025, it plans to have a total of 256 satellites in LEO.

The Falcon 9 rideshare mission, called Transporter 7, is currently slated to lift off tomorrow, April 14, following delays caused by adverse weather conditions. The mission will take off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

In an interview with CNET, Sateliot CEO Jaume Sanpera said "We are the cell tower in space for the mobile operators. These are small satellites — nanosatellites — that allow us to have coverage everywhere in near real-time in three years."

Other firms, such as Apple, Verizon, and Qualcomm, are also looking to provide similar services. As of the iPhone Pro 14, Apple introduced a satellite SOS feature that allows users to connect from remote locations via GlobalStar satellites.

A new satellite constellation

Before Sateliot can begin to connect regular customers using its new constellation, it will first connect companies that require connectivity in sectors such as the maritime and logistics industries. The company has so far signed three deals with firms in these sectors, worth roughly $1.1 billion.

The trick behind Sateliot's connectivity is that each of its nanosatellites can enable communication with a region of Earth roughly three times the size of Texas. Due to that capability, the company says it will be able to provide global coverage with its full fleet of roughly 250 satellites.

As a point of reference, SpaceX's own Starlink mega-constellation currently totals more than 3,500 satellites in LEO. Of course, Starlink provides high-speed internet, whereas Sateliot's satellites will enable text messaging, meaning their operations will require much less bandwidth. Much like Starlink, however, the new service could play a crucial role in saving the lives of people in isolated, remote locations.

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