12 May 2021
12. May 2021 Space

Delivering Internet of Things (IoT) services worldwide

Airbus flies its IoT technology and communications protocol on Astrocast’s nanosatellites for global connectivity

A representation of Astrocast constellation satellites in orbit.

 

Airbus and the Swiss space startup, Astrocast, worked together to develop an IoT solution based on Airbus' proprietary UNIT (Universal Network for Internet of Things) communications solution, which has now been integrated into Astrocast's constellation of nanosatellites.

Dedicated to the delivery of worldwide IoT services, these satellites embed a Linux-based software-defined radio technology that runs the on-board processing algorithm developed by Airbus Defence and Space.

Airbus has tailored the UNIT solution to Astrocast's constellation, with the on-board software and management control systems enabling end-to-end system communications.

An Airbus achievement for IoT end-to-end solutions

Five Astrocast nanosatellites were successfully deployed in low-Earth orbit earlier this year and will be the first to deliver commercial services. They follow two precursor satellites launched in 2018 and 2019. Another set of five will be launched during this summer, after which Astrocast is aiming to launch 20 to 30 satellites annually.

"This is a critical milestone for both Astrocast and a long list of customers and partners,” said Fabien Jordan, Astrocast CEO. “With the Astrocast Network, our customers will have two-way communications with their IoT assets, even in some of the world's most remote and challenging regions. And these five satellites are just the beginning."

This success marks Airbus' first commercial achievement in delivering IoT end-to-end solutions. Work started some years ago thanks to internal and collaborative R&D activities with the support of the French Government's General Directorate for Enterprise, along with public funding received through the Future Investments Programme.

Opening the way for UNIT commercial operations 

François Gaullier, Head of Telecom Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, said: "Airbus and its strategic partner Astrocast have co-developed and deployed a unique communications protocol optimised for global satellite IoT communications. We are very excited about the results of this collaboration, and for the future of this technology.”

Gaullier thanked the teams that made this success possible, opening the way to commercial operations of the UNIT solution. “This is a clear illustration of our capacity for perseverance and innovation. Congratulations!" he added.

Following the effective deployment on low-Earth orbiting satellites, future studies and projects are considering the deployment of the UNIT solution over geostationary-orbit satellites, according to Gaullier.

“We are very excited about the results of this collaboration, and for the future of this technology.”

François Gaullier - Head of Telecom Systems, Airbus Defence and Space

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