- Laurence Russell
Spire Global to launch six satellites on SpaceX Transporter-6 mission
Spire Global, Inc., a leading global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, will launch six satellites on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station no earlier than January 2023. The satellites will demonstrate advancements and new capabilities for Spire’s weather and aviation solutions.
Spire will launch two demonstration satellites carrying next-generation Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads, which collect aircraft position data. The satellites will expand Spire’s existing ADS-B constellation and play an integral role in improving coverage and latency for the Company’s aviation products. They will demonstrate sophisticated technology for global aircraft tracking, including an advanced antenna design based on years of in-orbit ADS-B payload experience and state-of-the-art inter-satellite links. The satellites will be Spire’s first to have propulsion systems on board. The multipurpose satellites will also carry payloads to monitor Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals for vessel tracking data and for Space Services customer Myriota, a provider of global Internet of Things (IoT) service from satellites.
One of the satellites on the launch will fly a polarimetric radio occultation (PRO) payload that collects data on precipitation profiles and patterns. The mission will validate PRO sensitivity to precipitation using several global navigation satellite systems as signals of opportunity. This will be the first step towards the assimilation of PRO data into weather models, which will enhance the value and accuracy of global weather forecasts along with the weather variables currently gathered by Spire’s constellation. The PRO payload, which will be the first launched by a private company, was designed as part of the ESA InCubed Programme, a co-funding program focused on developing innovative and commercially viable products and services that generate or exploit the value of Earth observation imagery and dataset. This activity is supported by the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA). Spire is the largest producer of radio occultation data, which is leveraged by government agencies like NOAA, NASA, ECMWF, and EUMETSAT to drive global weather predictions.
“We at ESA are very happy with the efficiency, focus, and speed of implementation of this activity, and if we can see it resulting in measurement data and processing results for systematic evaluation of their assimilation into numerical weather prediction, that will be a rewarding completion,” said Thomas Burger, ESA Technical Officer for Spire.
“Satellites and payloads are continuing to get smaller and more powerful,” said Jeroen Cappaert, Spire CTO and Co-founder. “We’re capitalizing on this rapid pace of innovation and miniaturization to continue to enhance our constellation with cutting-edge technology that drives new applications of satellite data. The applications we’re demonstrating for aviation tracking and precipitation data will play a crucial role in solving some of the greatest challenges we face on Earth, such as overcoming climate change with more accurate weather forecasting and bringing transparency to the supply chain.”
The Company is also launching three satellites to replenish its fully deployed constellation of more than 100 multipurpose satellites. Spire designs and builds its satellites entirely in house at its manufacturing facility in Glasgow. The Company has built and launched more than 150 satellites, carrying over 500 years of spaceflight heritage across its fleet.
The satellites are manifested on the mission through a multi-launch agreement between Spire and Exolaunch, which includes access to the Transporter missions through Exolaunch’s long-term launch arrangements with SpaceX. Exolaunch, a global provider of launch, in-space logistics and deployment services, will also provide Spire with deployment and integration services.