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  • Satellite Evolution Group

AAC Clyde Space delivers first Kelpie satellite supporting ORBCOMM's AIS Service to Cape Canaveral


AAC Clyde Space has delivered the first Kelpie satellite to Cape Canaveral, Florida, in preparation for its planned launch onboard the SpaceX Transporter 6 mission expected in December 2022. The 3U EPIC nanosatellite will deliver data to the US company ORBCOMM Inc., a global provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, under an exclusive Space Data as a Service (SDaaS) deal. It is planned to be followed by the launch of a second Kelpie satellite in the first half of 2023.


The project will leverage a SDaaS model in which AAC Clyde Space owns and operates the satellites to deliver Automatic Identification System (AIS) data exclusively to ORBCOMM and its government and commercial customers, which is used for ship tracking and other maritime navigational and safety efforts. The state-of-the-art satellite weighs just 4 kg and features an advanced antenna concept developed by Oxford Space Systems to maximize AIS detections of all message types.


"The Kelpie satellite is one of the most innovative satellites AAC Clyde Space has ever built. It hosts advanced low-noise core avionics for reliable, high-performance space data handling as well as the company's first payload development. Our joint mission with an established, leading data services company like ORBCOMM represents a major milestone for AAC Clyde Space in solidifying our strategic move to a Space Data as a Service model," says AAC Clyde Space CEO Luis Gomes.


"Through the Kelpie mission focused on enhancing our global AIS data services, ORBCOMM's government and commercial customers will benefit from more comprehensive global coverage and enhanced performance as well as the highest expected vessel detection rates in the industry over the long term," says Greg Flessate, ORBCOMM's SVP of Government and AIS.


Currently, the group owns and operates a constellation of four satellites dedicated to SDaaS through its US subsidiary AAC SpaceQuest. In addition to the Kelpie satellites, AAC Clyde Space plans to enhance its constellation with two satellites in the fourth quarter of 2023. Moreover, AAC Clyde Space has won a contract to deliver hyperspectral data from an additional three satellites, bringing the total number of satellites owned by the group for SDaaS purposes to eleven.


The two Kelpie satellites will join the other satellites in the constellation, dedicated to delivering AIS data used in maritime operations, and will support many applications, including domain awareness, search and rescue, environmental monitoring and maritime intelligence. ORBCOMM processes over 30 million AIS messages from more than 200,000 vessels per day for government and commercial customers to deliver a complete situational picture of global vessel activity.

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