Kepler targets Q4 2017 for its first nanosatellite launch

Canadian satellite startup Kepler Communications has contracted its first launch, with launch operations be provided by Netherlands-based Innovative Space Logistics (ISL), and the launch itself taking place aboard an Indian polar satellite launch vehicle (PSVL) current scheduled to take off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in November of this year. The launch is more tech demo than anything else, but is a key step for Kepler, and will also make a global “first” for the company and for satellite communications in general.

The launch will see a commercial LEO nano satellite make use of the Ku telecommunications signal band for the first time, demonstrating Kepler’s tech for taking advantage of the communications channel and setting it up for its ultimate goal of fielding a full constellation of LEO satellites to operate on that band, which will allow it to provide high bandwidth communications for clients on Earth.

Kepler’s whole pitch is that it can reduce the cost of launching, operating and maintaining a network capable of real-time communication for companies with space-based assets including non-geostationary satellites. This should help reduce the need for broad coverage via ground stations for companies that operate satellite fleets, like Planet, letting them retrieve and send data from their networks more reliably without the need to have physical facilities around the world within visible range of wherever their satellites happen got be passing over the globe.

“We’re looking forward to deploying the pilot service to eager customers as a next step,’ Kepler CEO and founder Mina Mitry told TechCrunch via email. “Demonstrated successful operation of our initial spacecraft will allow us to begin launching our larger constellation in late 2018, early 2019.”