Kepler Communications has won a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) worth EUR 500m ($581,000).
Under the deal, the company will deliver hardware terminals capable of connecting other space assets to Kepler’s LEO communication network via Kepler’s recently unveiled Aether in-space connectivity service.
Earlier this year the ESA issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) with a focus on Satellite telemetry and control using space IoT networks for small satellites, AO/1-10220. In response, Kepler proposed the use of the Kepler Low Earth Orbit satellite network as the communication infrastructure that would provide connectivity to other space-based assets in nearby orbits. To facilitate connectivity with the Kepler network, a Kepler terminal will be installed on other objects in space to communicate to and from the network, and via that network back to command centres here on Earth.
Kepler’s Aether service is designed to address a central challenge with low earth operations; limited connectivity to those space-based mission assets from the ground.
Wen Cheng Chong, Kepler’s CTO & Co-Founder, said: “Reaction to Aether since our announcement at Satellite2021 has been overwhelmingly positive. The contract with ESA to deliver the hardware and service is an important validation for the team at Kepler and highlights value of our central mission to deliver internet-style connectivity to space. And equally important, this win adds strength to the solution as we continue conversations with other users in the space community.”
Ahead of the fulfilment of the ESA contract, Kepler will be conducting on-orbit testing of the proposed hardware terminals in the first quarter of 2022, onboard two new satellites Kepler will be adding to their constellation.