Rocket Lab will next month launch more satellites into orbit from Hawke's Bay, as it expands its manifest to include satellites capable of beaming wi-fi to earth - direct from space.
The California-based company today announced it has signed a contract with Internet of Things (IoT) start-up Fleet Space Technologies to launch two satellites that will form the foundation of its global communications constellation.
The two Proxima satellites are the first of a fleet of small, low-cost satellites that will provide internet connectivity for millions of sensor devices based in remote locations on Earth.
The satellites have been added to the manifest for Rocket Lab's upcoming mission, "It's Business Time", scheduled for launch in November from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex-1 at Mahia.
Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said the newly-announced payloads were manifested quickly, with just weeks passing between signing the agreement and the satellites completing integration for launch next month.
The Proxima I and II satellites will mark the first commercial tests of Fleet's software-defined radios, enabling it to transmit data efficiently across both S-band and L-band frequencies in space.
The satellites would ultimately help form the beginning of a constellation of more than 100 nano satellites that, together, will act as a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) space network for enterprises across the world.
Beck said Fleet Space Technologies was one of the key leaders in Australia's emerging commercial space industry.
"We're thrilled to add Fleet's Proxima satellites to the It's Business Time manifest. Fleet's planned constellation of more than 100 satellites will enable greater connectivity across the globe and provide better access to data about our planet."
Fleet Space Technologies chief executive Flava Tata Nardini said the rapid manifesting and integration time was a key attraction to Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle.
"We decided to build and launch two more satellites over the past few months and Rocket Lab has moved at the speed of light to incorporate them in this mission, assist us with licensing and complete integration in record time. We will be in space less than few months after making the decision to join the mission. This rapid turnaround time is what the space industry really needs now.
"To see our first commercial CubeSats launched is an incredibly important milestone for us as a business, and it sets us on the path to achieving our goal of connecting Australia, and the world, in ways like never before."
Speaking to Hawke's Bay Today Tata Nardini said the applications for technology could include a wi-fi system with a 15km radius.
"We do something very peculiar - we leverage something in the cloud called LoRa - Low Range Wireless RF Technology - that's a wi-fi technology that can go 15km. So, imagine your wi-fi on your phone that usually cuts out just outside the door - this is 15km radius.
"So, we leverage this technology and created an IP to bring this technology into space. We believe this is quite special and is the future.
"We have customers all around the world, from Canada and the US to Africa and the Middle East and New Zealand as well."