UK-Australian start-up launches first three nano-satellites

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Nano-satellite company to start commercial trials after successful pilot launch

An Australian-UK start-up has successfully launched three pilot nano-satellites at the start of a project to build a global wholesale network.

Sky and Space Global (SAS) now needs to find the funds to build and launch 200 satellites to go into full commercial service, and has long-term plans for many more.


The first three nano-satellites – nicknamed 3 Diamonds – went into space this morning piggybacked on an Indian scientific launcher. However SAS says it has a contract with Virgin Orbit, a spin-off of Virgin Galactic that is designed for small satellites. Virgin Orbit aims to begin its test flights later this year.

SAS CEO Meir Moalem said: “We are delighted that the launch has gone according to plan and we will now begin the next phase, which is in-orbit testing. This marks the start of an exciting new era for SAS and for satellite technology and we now expect to be revenue generating within a few months.”

The pilot satellites are due to start generating revenue as soon as the testing is over. SAS says it is working with wholesale operator Sat-Space Africa as well as Globalsat Group in Latin America.

Sky and Space Global UK was registered in the UK in November 2015. It was later acquired by a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

“We are working on the full constellation and that will require additional funding,” Moalem said in a TV interview before the launch.

The company raised A$10 million (US $7.76 million) before the launch but has not said how much it will need to fund the construction and launch of the 200 satellites that will provide a service in the equatorial belt.

“We look forward to continuing to work towards delivering a full constellation of up to 200 nano-satellites in orbit in order to achieve full coverage of the equatorial belt by 2020,” said Moalem this morning after the successful launch.

A Danish company, GomSpace, built the initial 3 Diamonds satellites launched this morning and SAS says it has signed a contract for the next 200 with the same company.