In the latest of our SpaceWatch Middle East interview series, Helen Jameson had the pleasure of speaking to Meidad Pariente, CTO and Co-Founder of Sky and Space Global.
To begin with, can you give us some background on the SSG concept?
Sky and Space Global will provide narrowband communication services in a service area that resides between Latitude 15 North and 15 South. These services include voice conversations, instant messaging, data store and forward, M2M and Internet-Of-Things services.
In a nutshell, how will your technology work?
We’re building innovative space robots that will function as space routers, including full autonomous routing, 4 way inter-satellite links and orbit keeping
GomSpace has already delivered the Three Diamonds demonstration satellites to SSG. When will you launch them?
We’re part of the PSLV C38 mission managed and directed by ISRO with our launch broker Innovative Solutions Logistics (ISL). Once an official launch date will be announced we will publish it on all of our social media channels.
How many satellites do you envisage launching at a time?
Once we start launching the constellation, we will launch several dozens at a time onboard dedicated launches.
How does the use of nanosatellites enable you to be a nimble player in the market?
Nanosatellites have changed the paradigm of a satellite being an expensive ‘once in two decades’ product, hence unique and expensive. We regard our satellites as ‘space routers’, and as such, replaceable, upgradable, and expandable. We realized early on that any effort to guess what technology will be available in five years, is futile. So we weaved into our business plan constant improvements and upgrades by annual replacement of 20%-25% of the entire satellite fleet.
What gives SSG the competitive edge over other small satellite constellations?
First of all, we strongly believe that in the space industry there are no competitors, only partners and future partners. Serving billions of people is a privilege that can be shared by several very successful companies. Regarding other small satellite constellations for narrowband services, we wish them all success.
You have received a great deal of interest from investors. How has the whole ‘funding journey’ been so far?
Sky and Space Global had a very interesting and unique funding journey, sort of “reverse pyramid” startup experience. You see, most startups start with seed money, than round ‘A’, round ‘B’, etc… and four or five years down the road, an IPO or Exit. Sky and Space Global started with a RTO (Reverse Take Over), in which we became a publicly listed company at the ASX (Australian Stocks Exchange). Since the initial IPO we did another small capital raise that was dedicated for constellation kick-off in parallel to the three diamonds. Being a publicly listed NewSpace company is amazing. With more than 4500 involved and active shareholders we spread the news and get more people involved in the space era. Slowly but surely we see more interest in our business and more importantly, our vision, and for us this is great news.
How does it feel to be a part of the NewSpace phenomenon?
We don’t feel it, we don’t dream it, we’re being it. The world is changing, and 30 years after computing and communication abilities became household technologies, at last the space industry follows. For us, NewSpace is the best way to fully utilise the potential that space related applications have for bettering our lives.
At SpaceWatch Middle East, we are very concerned with the humanitarian aspect of the satellite industry. How will be able to help the humanitarian sector?
Sky and Space Global’s main service area is between latitude 15 North and 15 South. According to the UN, more than 2.5 billion people in this region have no communication infrastructure whatsoever. Better education, healthcare, commerce, personal safety and overall wellbeing is all based on our ability to communicate. We will bring life changing opportunities to the people that live there at an affordable price.
Tell us about your MoU with SocialEco and your plans to launch a ‘Humanity Smartphone’.
Sky and Space Global’s vision is to provide 3 billion people with means to a very basic right, to communicate and get connected. We want to give as many people as possible the means to communicate. For us, the SocialEco “1$smartphone” is a great way to provide tools of communication to the public.
As a first stage, our communication app will be incorporated into the 1$smartphone and with the connectivity provided by our hotspot device, the 1$smarphone will become a satellite phone. The next stage will be developing a “20$smartphone” that will incorporate our hotspot hardware directly into the smartphone, making it a fully operational 2G/3G/4G/SSG smartphone.
Can you give us an idea of how the next year will look to SSG?
I can give you an idea regarding the next four years. Sky and Space Global will start its commercial service based on the three diamonds, after launch and In-Orbit Testing. In parallel we’re already working on the design of the full constellation. The first batch of nanosatellites will be launched at H2 2018, on a dedicated LauncherOne rocket. Years 2019 and 2020 will be dedicated to ramping up the service availability with quarterly dedicated launches.
SpaceWatch Middle East thanks Meidad Pariente of Sky and Space Global for the interview.