Australian-based start-up Spiral Blue has signed an agreement with Polish satellite manufacturer SatRevolution to launch and test its first prototype Space Edge Zero (SEZ) computer in orbit.
The SEZ allows for in-situ processing of satellite imagery, eliminating the need to send large volumes of raw data back to Earth.
In a release, Spiral Blue founder Taofiq Huq said that the SEZ computer will be hosted by SatRevolution's SW1FT satellite, set for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than December 2020. Following in orbit qualification, the SEZ will be tested throughout 2021.
SatRevolution's SW1FT will also be carrying an optical payload capable of capturing RGB imagery at six-metre resolution. This imagery will be passed to the SEZ to process earth observation imagery in real time.
“We intend to test a variety of algorithms on these images, such as our Vessel Detect AI,” Huq said. “This gives us the opportunity to do a full end-to-end test of Space Edge computing from both a technological and commercial perspective - taking images, processing them, and delivering the processed data.”
Early development of Space Edge Zero began in August 2019 when Spiral Blue was awarded the Minimum Viable Product Grant from the NSW Government. The grant project including testing of the various components of the SEZ computer, including running and testing representative algorithms on representative hardware, thermal testing in a vacuum, and radiation testing.
According to Huq, Spiral Blue has since been focused on building a fully integrated prototype of SEZ and anticipates completing an initial engineering model in the coming weeks.