A Canadian startup plans to hitch a ride with SpaceX to launch its mini-satellites into orbit starting in 2020.
Toronto-based Kepler Communications said in a news release on Thursday that it struck a deal with the Elon Musk-led company to transport Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites onboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Kepler’s bread loaf-sized devices act like a cellular carrier in space, beaming around data from oil tankers, rail cars, icebreakers, and shipping containers located anywhere on the globe on a single network.
Chief executive officer Mina Mirty told Yahoo Finance Canada last November, around the time of the company’s first launch, that he aims is to deploy a constellation of as many as 140 satellites to improve global communication.
3..2...1...0...Lift-off! pic.twitter.com/rT0Y02e5mq— Kepler Communication (@KeplerComms) November 29, 2018
“We are deploying our next-generation constellation on schedule, which will let us serve the growing demand,” Mitry said in a statement on Thursday.
LEO satellites orbit about 600 kilometres above Earth, well below the 35,000-kilometre range of traditional satellites. Shorter distances can mean better speeds for customers moving large amounts of CCTV data or weather information, for example.
Kepler said the launch will occur in three phases spanning into 2023, each with an increasing number of satellites.
SpaceX will act as a launch partner through its SmallSat Rideshare Program. The company is a major proponent of LEO technology. It has reportedly filed documents to put tens of thousands of its own Starlink satellites into orbit.
“SpaceX is honoured Kepler chose our Falcon 9 rideshare program to launch a portion of its innovative nanosatellite constellation, which will help close global gaps in internet connectivity,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in a joint statement.
Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.