Australian startup Spiral Blue will partner with Polish satellite manufacturer SatRevolution to host Spiral Blue’s Space Edge Zero (SEZ) computers onboard two satellites - STORK-4 and STORK-5 - ahead of a launch no earlier than June onboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.
SEZ hardware has arrived in Poland and is currently undergoing final integration with these satellites.
Spiral Blue’s SEZ, is a prototype computer designed to allow in-space processing of satellite images. This upcoming mission will see end to end testing and space qualification of the SEZ.
Each of SatRevolution’s Earth observation STORK satellites will carry an optical payload that can capture multispectral images at five metre resolution. This imagery will then be passed onto an onboard SEZ unit, allowing the prototype computer to take in and process earth observation imagery in real time.
Earth observation images currently require the raw satellite data to be processed here on Earth. Space Edge Computers allow much of this processing to happen in space.
Spiral Blue intends to open access to Space Edge Computers through its Space Edge Services platform, allowing any developer to rapidly and affordably access and process Earth observation data. This will improve lead times, affordability, flexibility, and ease of development for organisations developing Earth observation services.
The Virgin Orbit mission will launch the STORK satellites and SEZ in a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 400km-500km. Following in-orbit qualification, the SEZ will be tested in Q4 2021 and throughout 2022.
“We intend to test a variety of algorithms on these images, including machine learning based algorithms such as Vessel Detect and Canopy Mapper,” Spiral Blue’s CEO, Taofiq 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.”
Spiral Blue was recently a recipient of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement Grant, a grant which supports the Australian space industry to build capacity to deliver products and services into domestic and/or international space industry supply chains that could support Moon to Mars activities. This grant is supporting the development of Spiral Blue’s Space Edge Services platform.
The company is also developing Vessel Detect under a Defence Innovation Hub contract.