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Astrocast announces agreement with Leaf Space for global IoT network use of ground stations

(11 September 2018 - Astrocast) Astrocast and Leaf Space announced today an agreement for Astrocast’s use of Leaf Space ground stations.

The agreement calls for up to 12 antennas to be utilized by the Astrocast IoT network, a 64-unit nanosatellite constellation, which is scheduled to be launched in phases. The antennas included in the agreement will be built and operated by Leaf Space and will be strategically located across six locations, providing dedicated service solely to Astrocast and its worldwide customers.

This new ground segment solution, named Leaf Key, has been developed by Leaf Space to address high capacity and high efficiency missions, such as Astrocast’s constellation.

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Leaf Space ground station (courtesy: Leaf Space)

“We are pleased to engage Leaf Space for ground communication services,” said Fabien Jordan, co-founder and CEO of Astrocast. “With the ability to develop and operate dedicated antennas, and to scale alongside our network, Leaf Space is the right partner for us.”

The Astrocast IoT and machine-to-machine communications network will provide cost effective services to customers spanning key global industries worldwide. Coverage will span the 90 percent of the globe not currently serviced by existing cellular systems. The constellation will consist of eight orbital planes, each encompassing eight operational spacecrafts along with two spare satellites.

The Leaf Space agreement provides Astrocast with the use of additional antennas each time the Swiss-based IoT provider launches a new plane of satellites. Current Astrocast constellation deployment plans include: the Spaceflight-organized launch of two demonstration satellites onboard Falcon9 and PSLV in the 4th quarter of 2018; an undisclosed launch of the constellation’s first plane of Astrocast satellites during the third quarter of 2019 and the recently announced D-Orbit-led launch of a second plane of nanosatellites in late 2019 or early 2020. The roll-out of Leaf Space antennas will align with these satellite deployment phases.

“We worked really close with the Astrocast team to develop a service able to reduce the ground segment to a predictable recurring cost even for such a big constellation,” said Giovanni Pandolfi Bortoletto co-founder and CTO of Leaf Space. “Leaf Key is a flexible and scalable system that follows step by step the constellation deployment, providing the right performance at the right time.”

Offering remote IoT and M2M capabilities, Astrocast’s constellation is designed to enable substantial operational efficiencies and cost advantages within key global sectors including maritime, oil and gas, mining, supply chain and logistics, transportation, utilities, agriculture, and many others.

“There are numerous businesses operating remotely which simply don’t have access to key IoT capabilities because those services don’t currently exist in those regions,” added Jordan. “The Astrocast network will be a game changer for these enterprises and Leaf Space’s ground station capabilities will be a key component of our solution.”

“This is the first time a single ground segment provider has been awarded to support a full-deployment nanosat constellation,” said Jonata Puglia, co-founder and CEO of Leaf Space. “It’s exciting to see space startups like ours working closely together to achieve their goals. This is a clear sign that the smallsat market is consolidating and entering its mature stage.”

About Astrocast

Astrocast SA, in partnership with the European Space Agency, Airbus, and Thuraya, is developing an advanced nanosatellite network for the Internet of things (IoT). Airbus and Astrocast have developed a low-cost ASIC and module that provides the most power efficient satellite modem for IoT applications. The constellation will consist of 64 CubeSat satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and will provide low latency global coverage. Astrocast was founded in 2014 by the developers of SwissCube, one of the longest lasting, operational nanosatellites in space.

About Leaf Space

Leaf Space provides ground segment services dedicated to the microsatellites market. With four ground stations already operative in Europe, the company offers two kind of services: Leaf Line, based on a network of shared ground stations, and Leaf Key, based on fully dedicated ground stations networks. Leaf Space was born in Italy in 2014 with the aim of removing the limits of the microsatellite environment concerning TT&C and payload data downlink operations.