French Internet of Things start-up Kin?is has raised 100 million euros from private and public investors to build and launch 25 IoT cube satellites,media space news reported. The French marine and environmental monitoring company Collecte Local satellites (CLS) led the financing, which was also involved by CNES, the French space agency CNES, The French National Institute of Marine Science (Ifremer) and several other companies.
French industrial partners Thales Group, cube satellite developer Hemeria and software engineering firm Celad also took part in the round of financing, as was SPI, managed by Bpi France and the European Investment Bank.
Alexandre Tisserant, chief executive of Kin?is, said the round of financing was all equity-based and provided full funding for the company’s Constellation construction, which includes manufacturing, launch, ground infrastructure and insurance. He said the money would also increase the number of employees in Kin?is from 25 to 45.
More than half of the 100m euros came from private investors, including BNP Paribas D’pveloement, according to Tisserant. CLS remains the largest shareholder, retaining 32% of the ownership of Kin?is through its investments. CNES owns 34% of CLS, which generated nearly 135 million euros in revenue last year.
Tisserant said Kin?is has been relying on revenue from Argos, a system that contains seven managed payloads and an experimental microsatellite. Argos collects unidirectional data from offshore beacons, including humidity, temperature and sea level, but has limited throughput and service types. Kin?is pioneered the Cube Constellation, replacing Argos with a more powerful two-way connection system that links devices across multiple industries.
“We are moving from the current constellation of eight satellites with limited capacity to a full-load constellation with new constellation performance starting in 2022,” Tisserant said in an interview. This will really help us expand and hopefully grow from the current 20,000 beacons to millions in a few years. “
Hemeria will use the payload of the Thales Alenia Space to build the kin?is satellite, Tisserant said. He said the NewSpace Factory, a French small and medium-sized business, would provide components for the constellation, and Austrian start-up Enpulsion would provide power propulsion systems. He said each satellite would have major payloads for connecting IoT devices, as well as auxiliary automatic identification system payloads for tracking ships.
It was only recently that Kin?is discussed more content, including AIS payloads, and more attention to IoT applications, says Tisserant. Adding AIS would make Kin?is a competitor to companies such as Spire, ExactEarth and Orbcomm.
Tisserant said Kin?is plans to launch its 16-unit Cubesatellite in five units in the second half of 2022 and start service in early 2023. To speed up service start-up, Kin?is may also book one or two dedicated small satellite launchers in addition to sharing. Tisserant said kin?is aims to have a 650-kilometer low-Earth orbit, and the satellite will last for eight years. He said the company wanted to launch its satellites directly into its designated orbital plane, rather than using propulsion to move them into its orbit after deployment. The press release noted that each satellite would weigh less than 30 kg.
Tisserant says kin?is chose to outsource satellite manufacturing to other companies because its manufacturing partners are familiar with Argos and because the founders of Kin?is are more familiar with developing satellite applications than manufacturing. Kepler Communications, a highly competitive Internet of Things start-up, recently announced that it would build its 140 satellite constellations in-house.
But Kin?is will have its own network of ground stations. Tisserant said it chose Thales Alenia Space to build 20 ground stations that would use a flat electronic control antenna to connect the constellation of Kin?is. Commercial ground station operators lack the full coverage kin?is wanted and are becoming more expensive because of the larger constellations, he said.
Tisserant said kin?is could place ground stations on land owned by original Argos network partners, such as Eumetsat and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would help reduce costs. He added that the flat-panel antenna would be able to link to six satellites at the same time, while a traditional parabolic dish antenna would communicate only one satellite at a time. Tisserant said Kin?is would not set up user terminals, but would provide chipsets that would be shared with ground infrastructure partners. The goal, he says, is to make terminals cost “tens of euros.”
“Kin?is, in cooperation with the Indian Space Research Organization, will eventually have a payload hosted by Argos to be launched on India’s Oceansat-3 satellite by mid-2020,” Tisserant said. He said that by 2023, when the constellation Of the Cube of Kin?is began to enter service, there would still be four to five traditional Argos payloads in orbit.