Kleos Space has signed a contract with US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab to launch the scouting mission satellites that will geolocate maritime radios.
The multi-satellite system of the Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM) will form the cornerstone of a 20-system constellation that will geolocate VHF transmissions from marine vessels to provide global activity-based intelligence data. The Kleos Space satellites will detect radio transmissions and locate their origin and timing, enabling governments and organisations to detect activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy, as well as identify those in need of search and rescue at sea.
Built by GomSpace, the Kleos Space satellites are scheduled to launch on an Electron rocket from Launch Complex-1 in mid-2019. The satellites will be integrated into Rocket Lab’s Maxwell dispensers and deployed from the Electron kick stage to low Earth orbit.
Rocket Lab’s kick stage, powered by a 3D printed Curie engine, is designed to circularise small satellite orbits and perform complex manoeuvres, including multiple engine burns, to deploy many satellites into different orbits. This makes it ideal for deploying and replenishing constellations.
“Rocket Lab’s technology provides us with the flexibility we need to grow our satellite constellation and respond to the demanding market needs. We are thrilled to launch our first satellites with a new space company which meets our business philosophy," Andy Bowyer, CEO Kleos Space, said.
“Our technology will provide accessible and commercial solutions to respond to global concerns regarding surveillance, intelligence gathering and defence issues. The Kleos Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-real-time global observation."
“Small satellite technology like that of Kleos Space is increasingly playing a vital role in informing decisions on the ground that protect people and the environment. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kleos Space to provide them with the rapid and reliable access to orbit needed to build and replenish small satellite constellations,” Peter Beck, CEO Rocket Lab, said.