WASHINGTON — Luxembourg-based OQ Technology, which raised $13 million in September to build a small constellation of 5G narrowband nanosatellites for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, has ordered three more satellites from Kongsberg NanoAvionics.
To date, NanoAvionics has built three satellites for OQ Technology, two of which are already in orbit. The launch of the third – the European Space Agency-supported MACSAT – is being suspended after an Arianespace-powered Vega-C rocket carrying two commercial imaging satellites for Airbus failed in December.
“MACSAT was scheduled to be launched on Vega-C in March 2023, which was postponed following the December incident with the loss of the Vega-C VV22 mission. Arianespace and ESA have been investigating the issue and we are waiting to know when it will be launched,” OQ Technology founder and CEO Omar Qaise said in a March 15 statement SpaceNews. “However, given ESA’s recent announcement on the outcome of the investigation and next steps, we are very confident that MACSAT will fly this year.”
As part of the three-satellite order announced this week, NanoAvioncs will build Tiger-4, Tiger-7 and Tiger-8 around 5G NB-IoT payloads, provided by OQ Technology. According to NanoAvionics, the three 6U CubeSats will be built at a new facility in Vilnius, Lithuania, and will feature onboard propulsion for deployment, formation flight and end-of-life disposal. “These three nanosatellites will allow us to expand our constellation, expand our global coverage and open up new markets,” Qaise said in a statement.
Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO and Founder of NanoAvionics, called the agreement “a testament to the great working relationship we have built with OQ Technology over the past several years.” He attributes the repeat business to NanoAvionic’s “level of standardization, automation and experience with communications missions”.
Three in orbit
OQ Technology has deployed three Tiger nanosatellites since 2018. The company said in a March 13 press release that it expects to have 10 satellites in orbit by late 2023 or early 2024.
The constellation of OQ Technology currently includes:
• Tiger-1a 6U CubeSat built by Danish company GomSpace and launched in February 2018 on a Chinese Long March 2D rocket.
• Tiger-2a 6U CubeSat built by NanoAvionics and launched in June 2021 aboard SpaceX’s second Falcon 9 mission.
• Tiger-3a 6U CubeSat built by NanoAvionics and launched in April 2022 aboard SpaceX’s fourth Falcon 9 mission.
seven in the pipeline
In addition to the Tiger 4, Tiger 7 and Tiger 8 satellites just ordered from NanoAvionics and the already built MACSAT awaiting Vega launches to resume, OQ Technology has a pair of 6U CubeSats, Tiger 5 and Tiger-6, ordered with Denmark-based Space Inventor.
OQ Technology is also working with the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center to develop a modular 12U satellite platform called PHI-Demo, short for Payload Hosting Initiative Demonstration.
PHI-Demo will transport a communication payload from OQ Technology that stores and forwards data collected from IoT devices. PHI demo partner SteamJet Space Systems of Birmingham, England, will supply the satellite’s water-based propulsion system.
“The PHI mission is an important prerequisite for us to expand our global satellite 5G coverage and also the business in the [Middle East and North Africa] Region,” Qaise said in a January 2022 announcement.