Spire Global

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Spire Global, Inc.
Private
IndustryData & Analytics, Aerospace
Founded2012 (2012)[1]
FounderPeter Platzer, Joel Spark, Jeroen Cappaert[1]
Number of locations
6 (2019)
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Peter Platzer (CEO)
[1][2]
ProductsSpire Sense Cloud (Satellite and Terrestrial AIS)

Spire AirSafe (Satellite ADS-B) Spire Stratos (GPS-RO & GPS-R)

Orbital Services
ServicesSatellite-based maritime, aviation, and weather tracking
Number of employees
101-250[1][3]
Divisionsmaritime.spire.com
Websitespire.com

Spire Global, Inc. is a space-to-cloud data and analytics company that specializes in the tracking of global data sets powered by a large constellation of nanosatellites, such as the tracking of maritime, aviation and weather patterns.[4]

The company currently operates a fleet of more than 70 CubeSats, the second largest commercial constellation by number of satellites[5], and the largest by number of sensors. Its satellites are integrally designed and built in-house. It has launched more than 100 satellites to orbit since its creation.[6]

The company has offices in San Francisco, Boulder, Washington DC, Glasgow, Luxembourg, Singapore.[4]

History[edit]

Early Years[edit]

Spire was founded in June 2012 in San Francisco by International Space University graduates Peter Platzer, Jeroen Cappaert and Joel Spark as part of ArduSat, a project aiming to “democratize access to space”[7]. Tests for early prototypes were conducted over the summer and the fall through a high-altitude balloon.[8]. This effort was partly financed through crowdfunding, with a KickStarter that raised Spire $106,330.[9] In November the company signed an agreement with NanoRacks for the deployment of two satellites in what was to become “the first U.S. Commercial Satellite Deployment from the International Space Station”.[10]

In order to raise the capital required for the manufacturing of those satellites, the company incubated with Lemnos Labs. It raised investments totaling $1.5M in a seed round by Shasta Ventures, Lemnos Labs, E-merge, Grishin Robotics, and Beamonte Investments in February 2013.[11] A year after signing with NanoRacks, on November 19th, 2013 both ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X (1U CubeSats) were successfully released from the Kibo Experiment Module of the International Space Station and quickly started transmitting data to Spire servers.[12]

Following this experimentation, Spire engineers opted to focus on 3U nanosatellites to start porting more complex payloads, launching the first iteration of its standard satellite format, Lemur-1, with the Dnepr rocket in June 2014, transiting from 1U to 3U in only seven months, and launching its first prototype just two years after incorporation.[13][14]

On the basis of this early success, Spire announced in July a follow-up $25M Series A funding round led by Will Porteous from RRE Ventures and backed by Emerge, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, and Mousse Partners Capital.[15][16] The following month, the company announced that ArduSat would be spun-off of the company and would focus exclusively on educational technology in partnership with U.S. high schools.[2] Shortly after, Spire opened its Singapore office in late 2014 and started steadily increasing its network of ground stations.[17]

Growth[edit]

On June 30, 2015, the company announced a $40 Million Series B led by Promus Ventures with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and Jump Capital.[18] in order to help finance the first batches of Lemur satellites. The first Lemur-2 were launched in September 2015 through the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-X, making Spire the first US-based operator to launch from India.[19] This launch inaugurated the Spire tradition to leave the naming of each satellite to employees, with the first 3 Lemurs christened respectively Joel, Peter and Jeroen after the company’s co-founders.

A visualization of Spire Global's Weather Model

Facing increasing pressure to mass produce satellites and constrained by the limited space in its San Francisco office, Spire opened an office in Glasgow in February 2015, initially leveraging Clyde Space’s facilities, before opening its own full-fledged cleanroom for satellite manufacturing in December 2015.[20] The city was chosen to leverage the local know-how of what is widely considered the leading European ecosystem in small satellite production and establish a first foothold in Europe.[21] These facilities enabled Spire to quickly produce a first batch of four nanosatellites (launched in September) before manufacturing a full eight Lemur satellites ahead of an Atlas V launch in March 2016. This launch saw Spire cross the line of 10 simultaneously operating satellites in June of that year, following deployment from the ISS. Two additional launches were conducted that year, putting the total satellites sent to space by the company that year at sixteen, confirming its ability to industrialize the manufacturing process of its nanosatellites.[22]

Concomitantly, Spire opened a second U.S campus in Boulder, Colorado in January 2016. The company hired Dave Ector[23] – the former program manager for NASA’s COSMIC satellites – and Alexander MacDonald[24] - former director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory - and started drawing on the resources of the local weather ecosystem (powered by the University of Colorado Boulder) to kickstart its weather program in the city. To this effect, the team started working on Spire’s own GNSS Radio Occultation payload, enabling the company to constantly collect highly accurate data on local atmospheric properties which greatly enhance the forecasting abilities of weather models.[23][25] This program quickly enabled Spire to participate in the inaugural Commercial Weather Data Pilot program of the U.S National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in September 2016.[26] Spire’s participation was confirmed and broadened in September 2018 for the second round of the CWDP program.[27] This program aims to enable weather-focused administrations to procure data (largely obtained from Radio Occultation profiles) created by private entities in order to improve the precision of the publicly available weather models.

A visualization of Spire Maritime's AIS archive over the Gulf of Oman

Over 2017, the company launched 6 missions, yielding an additional 36 operated satellites despite the critical failure of a Soyuz vehicle carrying 10 Lemurs in November.[28] Spire closed the year by completing a $70m Series C led by the Government of Luxembourg (through its national Luxembourg Future Fund), and opened its second European campus in the city, enabling the company’s access to regional talent and facilities.[29] This round put the total amount of capital raised by Spire at $140.5m.

In early 2018, Spire participated in the first flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, and was selected for Arianespace’s Vega Proof of Concept[30], further broadening its launch portfolio. It participated in a total of 7 launch missions - yielding 28 new operated satellites – and developed its own ADS-B payload able to track the movement of equipped airplanes across areas that conventional ground radars can not cover, and that is quickly becoming a standard following the MH370 disappearance.[31]

In 2019, the company formalized its first business unit as Spire Maritime, based in Luxembourg,[32] and launched its 100th Lemur satellite on April 1st.[33]

Satellite[edit]

Spire engineers assemble a batch of Lemur satellites

Spire’s Lemur satellites are flexible platforms built to operate a variety of in-house or hosted payloads. It currently commercializes its platform on a “Space-as-a-Service” offering with aerospace and defence customers.[34]

Spire designs, builds, tests, and operates all its satellites in-house at its Glasgow offices.. The company uses minimally adapted COTS electronics to reduce cost.[35] The satellites are placed in low-Earth orbit and are scheduled to be retired and replaced every two to three years.[36][37]

Spire adheres to internationally recognized guidelines for disposal of old satellites.[38]

The company’s satellites are multi-sensor. Data types such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) service are used for tracking sea vessels. This data is valuable for use in illegal fishing, trade monitoring, maritime domain awareness, insurance, asset tracking, search and rescue, and prevention of piracy, among others.[31] Spire’s Sense product leveraging the company’s AIS data set was officially launched on February 2019.[32]

The GNSS-RO weather payload measure temperature, pressure, among other key characteristics across a “slice” of the atmosphere, or "profile". These characteristics are highly valuable for public and private weather forecasters across the world as they strongly increase the forecasting capabilities of weather models.[23][25]

ADS-B sensors were launched in 2018 to permanently track aircraft across all skies. This data is getting increasingly regarded as the new standard for modern aviation as it enables air controllers and companies to constantly monitor aircraft across isolated areas and oceans which ground-based radars are not able to cover.[39]

Satellite List[40][41]
NORAD CAT ID Satellite Name Launch Date Launch Vehicle Site De-Orbit Date
40044 LEMUR 1 2014-06-19 OREN
40932 LEMUR 2 JOEL 2015-09-28 PSLV SRI
40933 LEMUR 2 CHRIS 2015-09-28 SRI
40934 LEMUR 2 JEROEN 2015-09-28 SRI
40935 LEMUR 2 PETER 2015-09-28 SRI
41485 LEMUR 2 THERESACONDOR 2015-03-22 Atlas-5 TTMTR 2017-03-30
41488 LEMUR 2 NICK-ALLAIN 2015-03-22 TTMTR 2017-04-05
41489 LEMUR 2 KANE 2015-03-22 TTMTR 2017-04-07
41490 LEMUR 2 JEFF 2015-03-22 TTMTR 2017-03-24
41595 LEMUR 2 DRMUZZ 2016-03-23 AFETR 2017-06-25
41596 LEMUR 2 BRIDGEMAN 2016-03-23 AFETR 2017-03-08
41597 LEMUR 2 CUBECHEESE 2016-03-23 AFETR 2017-03-06
41598 LEMUR 2 NATE 2016-03-23 AFETR 2017-02-27
41871 LEMUR 2 XIAOQING 2016-10-17 Antares-230 WLPIS
41872 LEMUR 2 SOKOLSKY 2016-10-17 WLPIS
41873 LEMUR 2 ANUBHAVTHAKUR 2016-10-17 WLPIS
41874 LEMUR 2 WINGO 2016-10-17 WLPIS
41991 LEMUR 2 SATCHMO 2017-02-15 PSLV SRI
41992 LEMUR 2 MIA-GRACE 2017-02-15 SRI
41993 LEMUR 2 SMITA-SHARAD 2017-02-15 SRI
41994 LEMUR 2 SPIRE-MINIONS 2017-02-15 SRI
41995 LEMUR 2 RDEATON 2017-02-15 SRI
41996 LEMUR 2 NOGUECORREIG 2017-02-15 SRI
41997 LEMUR 2 JOBANPUTRA 2017-02-15 SRI
41998 LEMUR 2 TACHIKOMA 2017-02-15 SRI
42059 LEMUR 2 REDFERN-GOES 2016-12-09 H-2B TTMTR 2018-12-05
42067 LEMUR 2 TRUTNA 2016-12-09 TTMTR 2018-04-15
42068 LEMUR 2 AUSTINTACIOUS 2016-12-09 TTMTR 2018-10-04
42069 LEMUR 2 TRUTNAHD 2016-12-09 TTMTR 2018-11-13
42752 LEMUR 2 ANGELA 2017-04-18 Atlas-5 AFETR
42753 LEMUR 2 JENNYBARNA 2017-04-18 AFETR
42754 LEMUR 2 ROBMOORE 2017-04-18 AFETR
42755 LEMUR 2 SPIROVISION 2017-04-18 AFETR
42771 LEMUR 2 SHAINAJOHL 2017-06-23 PSLV SRI
42772 LEMUR 2 XUENITERENCE 2017-06-23 SRI
42773 LEMUR 2 LUCYBRYCE 2017-06-23 SRI
42774 LEMUR 2 KUNGFOO 2017-06-23 SRI
42779 LEMUR 2 LYNSEY-SYMO 2017-06-23 SRI
42780 LEMUR 2 LISASAURUS 2017-06-23 SRI
42781 LEMUR 2 SAM-AMELIA 2017-06-23 SRI
42782 LEMUR 2 MCPEAKE 2017-06-23 SRI
42837 LEMUR 2 GREENBERG 2017-07-14 Soyuz TTMTR
42838 LEMUR 2 ANDIS 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42839 LEMUR 2 MONSON 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42840 LEMUR 2 FURIAUS 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42841 LEMUR 2 PETERG 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42842 LEMUR 2 DEMBITZ 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42845 LEMUR 2 ZACHARY 2017-07-14 TTMTR
42881 LEMUR 2 ARTFISCHER 2017-07-14 TTMTR
43041 LEMUR 2 ROCKETJONAH 2017-11-12 Anatares-230 WLPIS
43045 LEMUR 2 YONGLIN 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43046 LEMUR 2 KEVIN 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43047 LEMUR 2 BRIANDAVIE 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43048 LEMUR 2 ROMACOSTE 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43051 LEMUR 2 MCCULLAGH 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43053 LEMUR 2 DUNLOP 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43054 LEMUR 2 LIU-POU-CHUN 2017-11-12 WLPIS
43123 LEMUR 2 MCCAFFERTY 2018-01-12 PSLV SRI
43124 LEMUR 2 PETERWEBSTER 2018-01-12 SRI
43125 LEMUR 2 BROWNCOW 2018-01-12 SRI
43126 LEMUR 2 DAVEWILSON 2018-01-12 SRI
43165 LEMUR 2 MARSHALL 2018-01-21 Electron KS RLLC
43167 LEMUR 2 TALLHAMN-ATC 2018-01-21 RLLC
43182 LEMUR 2 JIN-LUEN 2018-02-01 Soyuz VOSTO
43183 LEMUR 2 URAMCHANSOL 2018-02-01 VOSTO
43184 LEMUR 2 KADI 2018-02-01 VOSTO
43185 LEMUR 2 THENICKMOLO 2018-02-01 VOSTO
43558 LEMUR 2 VU 2018-05-21 Antares-230 WLPIS
43559 LEMUR 2 ALEXANDER 2018-05-21 WLPIS
43560 LEMUR 2 YUASA 2018-05-21 WLPIS
43561 LEMUR 2 TOMHENDERSON 2018-05-21 WLPIS
43695 LEMUR 2 ZUPANSKI 2018-11-11 Electron KS RLLC
43697 LEMUR 2 CHANUSIAK 2018-11-11 RLLC
43731 LEMUR 2 ORZULAK 2018-11-29 PSLV SRI
43732 LEMUR 2 KOBYSZCZE 2018-11-29 SRI
43745 LEMUR 2 DULY 2018-11-29 SRI
43746 LEMUR 2 VLADIMIR 2018-11-29 SRI
43882 LEMUR 2 CHRISTINAHOLT 2018-12-27 Soyuz VOSTO
43883 LEMUR 2 TINYKEV 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43884 LEMUR 2 REMY-COLTON 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43885 LEMUR 2 GUSTAVO 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43886 LEMUR 2 ZO 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43887 LEMUR 2 NATALIEMURRAY 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43888 LEMUR 2 SARAHBETTYBOO 2018-12-27 VOSTO
43889 LEMUR 2 DAISY-HARPER 2018-12-27 VOSTO
44084 LEMUR-2 JOHANLORAN 2019-04-01 PSLV SRI
44085 LEMUR-2 BEAUDACIOUS 2019-04-01 SRI
44086 LEMUR-2 ELHAM 2019-04-01 SRI
44087 LEMUR-2 VICTOR-ANDREW 2019-04-01 SRI
LEMUR-2 BECCADEWEY 2016-03-23 Atlas-5 AFETR Deploy Failure
LEMUR-2 MCGARVEY 2018-11-28 Soyuz TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 BENYEOH 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 HARVEY 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 MATTHEW 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 MAXIMILLIE 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 SMILLIE-FACE 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 NRE-METTS 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 CYLONRAIDER 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 ECTOR 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure
LEMUR-2 CRAIG 2018-11-28 TTMTR Launch Failure


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Spire Crunchbase". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "A Higher Education: Satellite Startup Aims to Inspire Students Through Experiments in Space". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  3. ^ "Spire (Global) Overview". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Spire website". 2014. Retrieved Jun 27, 2017.
  5. ^ "Nanosats.eu". 2019. Retrieved Jun 27, 2017.
  6. ^ "Spire Grows World's Largest Weather Observation Constellation With Launch Of 100th Satellite". 2019. Retrieved Jun 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "From Silicon Valley to Singapore: Spire's Ambitious Remote Sensing Strategy". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "SparkFun Box in (Near) SPAAAAACE!"". 2012. Retrieved Nov 21, 2012.
  9. ^ "ArduSat - Your Arduino Experiment in Space - Kickstarter". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "ArduSat Selects NanoRacks for ISS Satellite Deployment". 2012. Retrieved Nov 21, 2012.
  11. ^ "ArduSat will let anyone conduct experiments in space for $125". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  12. ^ "Crew Deploys Tiny Satellites and Tests Spacesuit Repairs". 2013. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "CubeSat - Spire". 2019. Retrieved Nov 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "Spire Global Aims To Orbit 25 Smallsats in 2015 - Spire". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  15. ^ "Nanosatellite Company Spire Raises $25M, Rocket Lab Unveils New Rocket". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  16. ^ "Spire announces $25 million in series A to fuel growth and help fulfill early customer demand" (Press release). San Francisco. 2014-06-29. Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  17. ^ "Spire Global makes strategic push to expand into Asia". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "Spire Raises $40 Million for Its 'Listening Satellites'". 2016. Retrieved Mar 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "PSLV Rocket Launches India's 1st Astronomy Satellite, 4 Spire Cubesats". 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  20. ^ "Spire Opens a European HQ in Luxembourg, Raises Additional $70M". 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  21. ^ "Why Spire Chose to Set Up in Scotland". 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  22. ^ "Nano-Microsatellite Market Forecast 2017" (PDF). 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  23. ^ a b c "A Quiet Revolution in Weather Forecasting". 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  24. ^ "Boulder to be site of global satellite company's largest facility". 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "GNSS Radio Occultation - Applications for Weather Forecasting" (PDF). 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  26. ^ "Commercial Weather Data Pilot". 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  27. ^ "Commercial Weather Data Pilot - Round 2". 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  28. ^ "Soyuz satellites feared lost in launch failure". 2017. Retrieved Jan 23, 2018.
  29. ^ "Spire Opens a European HQ in Luxembourg, Raises Additional $70M'". 2017. Retrieved Jan 23, 2018.
  30. ^ "Spire selects Arianespace". 2018. Retrieved Jan 23, 2018.
  31. ^ a b "A Strange Kind of Data Tracks the Weather—and Pirate Ships". 2018. Retrieved Jan 23, 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Spire Announces a New Business Unit for Maritime Data and Analytics". 2019. Retrieved Jan 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "Spire Lobs 100th Satellite To Space To Grow Its Weather-Watching Capabilities". 2019. Retrieved Jan 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "KeyW Announces Next-Generation Payload Demonstrations Powered by Spire Global's Hosted Payload Service". 2019. Retrieved Jan 23, 2019.
  35. ^ "NASA - NanoRacks-Ardusat-2". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  36. ^ "Spire wants to fight sea pirates from space – using nanosatellites". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  37. ^ "More space robots as Grishin funds NanoSatisfi". 2014. Retrieved Nov 21, 2014.
  38. ^ "A Responsible Space Actor". 2019. Retrieved Jan 21, 2019.
  39. ^ "Spire's First ADS-B Plane Tracking Satellites to Enter Service by the End of Q2". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  40. ^ "Space-Track.org". www.space-track.org. Retrieved 2019-05-15.(subscription required)
  41. ^ "Lemur-2 - Satellite Missions - eoPortal Directory". directory.eoportal.org. Retrieved 2019-06-15.

See Also[edit]

External links[edit]