Omnispace puts first phase of IoT constellation into orbit

  • April 6, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Washington DC-based Omnispace has put its Spark-1 satellite into orbit as part of the first phase of its IoT satellite constellation

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo, delivered the Spark-1 into orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-4. Omnispace’s Spark programme represents phase one in the development and delivery of the standards-based global hybrid network.

French firm Thales Alenia Space designed and built the satellite, part of the initial two-satellite Omnispace Spark programme. The NGSO satellite in low-earth orbit (LEO) will operate in the 2GHz S-band. Spark will support the 3GPP standard in band n256, making connectivity possible direct to compatible devices. This programme will serve to advance the development and implementation of Omnispace’s global hybrid non-terrestrial network.

“Omnispace is reinventing mobile communications by building a global hybrid network that will benefit users requiring true mobility, everywhere,” said Ram Viswanathan, CEO of Omnispace. “We are pleased with the work that Thales Alenia Space, together with its world-class team of innovators, have done to design and build Omnispace Spark. With their help we are making our vision of a single, ubiquitous, global hybrid network possible.”

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, added: “I’m very excited about the successful launch of Spark-1, a nanosatellite we built in conjunction with NanoAvionics, Syrlinks and Anywaves. This achievement reflects our ability to develop new space solutions in partnership with innovative SMEs to address market needs. We are convinced that merging flight proven expertise with agility is the key to successfully matching the evolving space demand.”

Spark-1 was delivered into orbit aboard a SpaceX transporter. Exolaunch provided launch, mission management, integration and deployment services.

Led by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, the Spark programme includes industry partners NanoAvionics providing the satellites buses, launch support and in-orbit operations, Anywaves the payload user antennas, and Syrlinks the S-band instruments for the payloads.

“The successful launch of Omnispace Spark-1 also signifies a successful collaboration between the NewSpace and traditional space, resulting in our great technological exchange with Thales Alenia Space,” said VytenisBuzas, CEO of NanoAvionics. “It is fair to say that both companies had to adjust their processes and find mutual middle ground. From working with a traditional satellite prime contractor, we gained a valuable experience and were able to further improve our reliability assurance processes and our technical performance. At the other side, we hope that Thales Alenia Space was able to benefit from our modular technology and the agility levels we provide.”

Nicolas Capet, CEO of Anywaves, added: “After demonstrating our capacity to provide cots antennas, we are today very proud to show our capability regarding payload ones. Supporting major space projects, such as Omnispace Spark, alongside with Thales Alenia Space, is also another source of great pride for Anywaves.”

And Eric Pinson, director of space activity at Syrlinks, said: “We are very proud to have been involved in the development of the first phase of this IoT satellite constellation. We would like to thank Thales Alenia Space for having relied on Syrlinks for the design of a specific new-space radio-frequency payload equipment with capability to receive, process and transmit IoT dedicated signals.”

Headquartered in the Washington DC area, and founded by veteran telecommunications and satellite industry executives, Omnispace is redefining mobile connectivity. By leveraging 5G technologies, the company is combining the global footprint of a non-geostationary satellite constellation with the mobile networks of the world’s telecom companies to bring an interoperable one network connectivity to users and IoT devices anywhere on the globe.

Omnispace is collaborating with Microsoft to deliver its global, hybrid 5G non-terrestrial network to under-served regions. The two companies plan to work together to architect a Microsoft Azure-centric 5G hybrid network to empower consumer, enterprise, government and IoT users with ubiquitous mobile connectivity.

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space targets telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately €2.15bn in 2021 and has around 8900 employees in ten countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the USA.

Last week’s SpaceX Transporter-4 mission included three satellites built by Lithuanian small-sat mission integrator NanoAvionics for multiple users.

MP42 is NanoAvionics’ largest satellite built and launched so far, based on one of the first commercially available modular microsatellite buses in the industry. MP42 is a rideshare mission, and part of the company’s ongoing programme. It is hosting multiple payloads including OQ Technology’s Tiger-3, adding another satellite to its 5G IoT and M2M communication constellation, and VeoWare’s RW500 fully integrated reaction wheel.

Two other satellites, launched with SpaceX Falcon-9 launch vehicle are dedicated telecommunications and Earth observation missions flying onboard NanoAvionics flagship M12P and M6P nanosatellite buses.

Also going into orbit was another of Lacuna Space’s IoT gateways. The British-Dutch company is creating a network to connect low-cost and low power IoT devices globally. Using LoRaWan, the Lacuna Network extends connectivity to remote areas of the world where conventional connectivity is not commercially viable.