Kepler Communications announced this week that they had partnered with the UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult on developing a third demonstration satellite and expanding their operations into the UK.
It’s not the first time that Catapult has partnered with a Canadian company. In January Catapult partnered with exactEarth so that UK companies could use exactEarth’s satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS) data.
To discuss Catapult’s and Kepler’s new partnership, SpaceQ spoke with Jeffrey Osborne, Co-founder & Vice President of Business Development at Toronto based Kepler Communications.
Kepler is developing next-generation satellite communication technologies for the Machine to Machine and Internet of Things satellite market with the goal of launching a constellation of 140 satellites for that developing marketplace. To date they’ve launched one of three demonstration satellites. Another will launch this summer followed now by another in mid-2019.
We also discussed their application with the US FCC to get a spectrum license for their satellites as well as a recent contract with the Canadian Space Agency and their experience launching with China.
Ahead of recording this weeks SpaceQ podcast, I asked Jeffry some preliminary questions.
Is there any particular reason you are choosing to work in the UK rather than partner with a Canadian company or developing a supply chain in Canada?
I would never use the term “rather than” when talking suppliers in Canada vs. UK vs. anywhere else. I think “in addition to” is more appropriate. We do recognize that we need to take advantage of the unique characteristics of multiple locals in order to be competitive globally. Canada is a great location for a lot of reasons, and I can’t see those reasons changing in the near future. For instance, we rely on a lot of fantastic suppliers here in Canada for much of our payload development. In addition to the great supply chain and partners here in Canada, we see the IOD (In-Orbit Demonstration Mission) as an opportunity to augment those with international partners.
Was you decision influenced in part by the apparent lack of Canadian government support for the space sector?
Definitely not. For instance we were just awarded an STDP (Space Technology Development Program) (contract) by the CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and that is made possible by some of the great people at the CSA who believe in entrepreneurship and believe in supporting small businesses. I believe that the Canadian Government punches above its weight class when it comes to support for the industry.
Does this mean that future satellites for your constellation will be built in the UK?
Nothing is set yet in terms of where our future satellites will be built. We have a good opportunity here to really compare different places and figure out what makes sense.
Listen in as Jeffrey and I continue the discussion in our podcast.
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