TAMPA, Fla. — Spanish startup Fossa Systems, which operates a constellation of low-power tracking devices, hopes to move pilot projects to full-scale commercial service this year by adding more capable satellites to its fleet.
The three-year-old company currently has 13 picosatellites in low Earth orbit.
Foss CEO Julián Fernandez said pilot customers in the logistics and oil and gas sectors have helped the company achieve $1 million in revenue to date.
Constellation uses Long Range Radio (LoRa), a low-power network protocol used by most Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to provide basic connectivity for track and trace purposes in extraterrestrial networks.
However, he said the network currently operates with a small set of reception channels that limit the applications it can support.
Fossil’s next-generation satellites will be larger and have “a drastic increase in performance that allows our commercial service to be established,” he said.
These satellites will have a new form factor. Fernandez declined to reveal that this would increase the network’s capabilities, although Fossa plans to specialize in low-bandwidth solutions for now.
While Constellation can currently serve half a million devices per day, Fossa aims to “increase that by almost an order of magnitude,” Fernandez said, “so the intent is to really increase our overall throughput—not in terms of speed, but device-wise.” .”
With 13 satellites in sun-synchronous orbits, he said Fossa can provide solutions with a latency of about 10 hours.
The company aims to deploy a constellation of 80 satellites by the end of 2024 to reduce latency to near real-time.
Fossa announced on January 12 that it had booked two space tugs from Momentus to begin deploying next-generation satellites this year.
The first of two Vigoride tugs carrying an unspecified number of Fossa satellites is scheduled to launch with Transporter-8, a SpaceX Falcon 9 mission planned no earlier than June 2023.
Momentus said it expects to deploy the next Vigorides on a later SpaceX Transporter mission.
While Fossa has not yet determined the number of satellites that will join the two missions, Fernandez said it could “get into the double digits.”
The orbital transfer vehicle operator has also secured “additional customers” for the first of the two missions, Momentus spokeswoman Jessica Piezonka said.
Fernandez said Fossa is talking to other launch service providers and brokers as it seeks to deploy as many as 67 satellites in less than two years.
He said the startup is in the middle of a Series A funding round to support these plans after raising about $1 million from commercial and government sources.
Falling costs for increasingly powerful small satellites have prompted dozens of other space players to seek a share of the growing market for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
They include Swarm, which SpaceX bought in 2021 in a rare acquisition for Elon Musk’s satellite launch and services provider.
Despite the growing threat of deep-pocketed competitors, Fernandez believes there are still “huge gaps” in the market for other players.
“I think it’s also going to be a game not of who provides the best technology, but who integrates better with the end customers and has better access to the market,” he said.
He said Fossa expects to double its 24-person team before the end of the year to help scale up its operations.