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  • 21 September 2018 15:56

Kleos Space signs contract with Rocket Lab to launch its first satellites

The company’s first satellite system, known as the Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM), will form the cornerstone of a 20-system constellation that will geolocate radio transmissions from marine vessels to provide global activity-based intelligence data as a service (DaaS).

ASX-listed space company Kleos Space (ASX:KSS) has signed a contract with US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab to launch its first satellites in mid-2019.

This follows an agreement with Danish company GomSpace to supply the multi nanosatellite system. Rocket Lab will integrate and launch the Kleos satellites to low earth orbit using an Electron rocket, the world’s first fully carbon orbital launch vehicle, from Launch Complex-1 in New Zealand. Rocket Lab’s inhouse-designed and built Maxwell dispensers and Electron rocket are powered by a 3D printed Curie engine.

Its unique kick stage is designed to circularise small satellite orbits and perform complex manoeuvres, including multiple engine burns, to deploy many small satellites into different orbits. This provides increased mission flexibility, making it ideal for deploying and replenishing constellations.

The Kleos Space constellation will then be used to detect VHF transmissions and other data currently ‘hidden’ from detection such as data on ‘passive’ radio transmissions without Automatic Identification Signals (AIS), GPS or VMS protocols. It will locate their origin and timing, enabling governments and organisations to detect activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy as well as identify those in need of search and rescue at sea.

The DaaS system works by deploying many antennae on the 20 satellites orbiting the entire globe in low earth orbit. By receiving the passive transmissions at each antenna at slightly different times the time-difference of arrival can be used with multi-lateration algorithms to calculate the location of the transmitter such as maritime VHF walkie talkie and mast-mounted surface emitters on the ground.

DaaS will initially be distributed to customers such as maritime commercial and government users in the defence, security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sectors through a proprietary application called Guardian ABI which will also eventually include analysis and comparison features.

“Rocket Lab’s technology provides us with the flexibility we need to grow our satellite constellation and respond to the demanding market needs. We are thrilled to launch our first satellites with a new space company which meets our business philosophy,” said Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer.

“Our technology will provide accessible and commercial solutions to respond to global concerns regarding surveillance, intelligence gathering and defence issues. The Kleos Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-real-time global observation”.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said satellites provide important data that can be used for multiple applications.

“Small satellite technology like that of Kleos Space is increasingly playing a vital role in informing decisions on the ground that protect people and the environment. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kleos Space to provide them with the rapid and reliable access to orbit needed to build and replenish small satellite constellations.”

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