Orbcomm, AAC Clyde, Saab to build maritime communications cubesat together

The cubesat is expected to launch in mid-2022 on a to-be-determined rocket.

Orbcomm, AAC Clyde, Saab to build maritime communications cubesat together
Orbcomm, AAC Clyde, Saab to build maritime communications cubesat together

Orbcomm, AAC Clyde, Saab to build maritime communications cubesat together

Orbcomm, AAC Clyde Space and Saab are working on a demonstration cubesat for maritime communications that could mark the beginning of a new constellation. Since Orbcomm already provides ship-tracking services with Automatic Identification System, which is a subset of VDES, the company will also distribute VDES data to customers. The cubesat is expected to launch in mid-2022 on a to-be-determined rocket.

According to SpaceNews, Luis Gomes, CEO of Sweden-based AAC Clyde said in an interview that it could be a small one or it could be a large one. They have talked up to about 100 spacecraft. Right now, they are focused on demonstrating the service and then there will be a discussion with other members of the consortium on where they would like to take this and how they would like to progress.

Gomes added that AAC Clyde will fly the VDES prototype in low Earth orbit, and that its current design doesn’t include propulsion. AAC Clyde typically designs its cubesats to last a minimum of five years. Greg Flessate, senior vice president and general manager of Orbcomm’s government, AIS and business operations told SpaceNews that the companies anticipate completing the demonstration in the first quarter of 2023.

After this Orbcomm would continue to use the satellite’s VDES data. He also said that Whereas Automatic Identification System is limited to simple data like ship speed and direction, VDES can provide weather, route information and other data. He believes that VDES has greater cybersecurity features than AI.

Flessate stated that the first of those two AIS cubesats is projected to launch in December, with the second to launch between the beginning of April and the end of June. But he declined to comment on who will launch the cubesats.