Toronto-based Kepler Communications is set to launch its first nanosatellite in November 2017.
The mission will act as a technology demonstration of the company’s Ku-band software defined radio (SDR) and high gain antenna. Ku-band is a radiofrequency spectrum used for satellite communications; the spectrum is commonly used for satellite TV and IP connectivity. Its combination of high bandwidth, non-detrimental rain fade, low-sized antennas, and low-cost components make it an ideal choice for high bandwidth communications.
Kepler is working towards building a low-cost, in-space telecommunications network. The company is tackling the problem of intermittent connectivity for non-geostationary satellites; most satellites can only relay information when they are near a ground station.
“This flight will be the first commercial low earth orbit (LEO) communications satellite to operate in Ku-band, a coveted band within the communications service provider world,” said Mina Mitry, Kepler CEO. “With the increasing interest in mega LEO constellations, being the first company to actually bring this spectrum into use is a major step forward for Kepler.”
The company has contracted Netherlands-based Innovative Space Logistics for the launch. ISL, a satellite missions company that has launched 75 satellites since its 2006 founding, will facilitate Kepler’s first launch onboard a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV). PSLV is an expendable launch system developed by the Indian Space Research Organization, and Kepler’s PSLV will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.
“We love being able to partner and work with these early-stage and rapidly growing startup space companies”, said Jeroen Rotteveel, CEO of ISL. “We take a tremendous amount of pride in ensuring we can share our expertise for these new companies and create successful missions together.”
In August 2016, Kepler raised a $5 million seed round, and said at the time it planned to launch satellites and deploy an initial service as early as the second half of 2017.