UK’s Open Cosmos plans communal satellite constellation
UK space startup Open Cosmos will launch a “mutualised” satellite constellation, to which partners can contribute their own satellites in exchange for access to data from the whole constellation.
The Open Constellation project will see an eventual 25 satellites launched, according to Open Cosmos.
The first satellite to launch will be “Menut”, developed by the Institute of Space Studies Catalonia (IEEC), with a launch via SpaceX scheduled before the end of 2022.
Across the seven satellites planned for launch by the end of 2023 will be a range of sensors and capabilities, from multispectral, hyperspectral, visible and near-infrared, with resolutions of between 2.5m and 5m. Open Cosmos is building and managing these initial satellites, but in the future hopes other organisations will add their own.
“Partner members of the OpenConstellation are able to contribute satellites to the constellation in return for access to high-quality data frequently delivered over their areas of interest coming from other satellites in the constellation,” Open Cosmos founder and CEO Rafel Jorda Siquier told The Stack by email.
“Partners in the constellation leverage the satellites they contribute to obtain a lot more data over the regions of interest from the others. This enables them to have a higher return on investment than they would otherwise have just from their own satellites,” he added.
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The idea is that data from all the satellites will be collected and pooled, and will be accessible to all the constellation’s members – instead of having to rely on only the data returned by their specific satellite.
The more satellites there are, the better the available data is for everyone, and the more worthwhile it will be to contribute a satellite – an attempt to harness the network effect in low-earth orbit.
To facilitate the data sharing, Open Cosmos has also developed the DataCosmos platform, which it launched earlier in 2022. DataCosmos is designed to ingest and harmonise data not only from Open Cosmos’s satellites, but also from public and complementary sources, such as drones and earth-based sensors – then combine it all for use by partners.
“[DataCosmos] allows analytical applications from partners to refine data into information that can be accessed via API or visualised on the platform with a revenue sharing approach. We have products deployed alongside our analytical partners for energy, ESG and natural resources,” said Siquier, adding Open Cosmos has a waiting list to onboard new applications. Open Cosmos makes much play of the constellation’s capabilities when it comes to gathering data during emergencies, such as fires or natural disasters.
According to Siquier, the Open Constellation project is fully funded through its anchor customers, as well as contributions from space agencies including UKSA, ESA and Catalonia’s IEEC.