Foxconn launches its first two satellites alongside European satellites

Foxconn launches its first two satellites alongside European satellites

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Contract manufacturing giant Foxconn has launched its first two satellites using a launch system from Exolaunch in Germany on the latest SpaceX rocket.

Exolaunch in Berlin provided mission management, deployment hardware, and services for Foxconn’s first two satellites. The satellites, PEARL-1H and PEARL-1C, are testing out Foxconn technologies for broadband links and next generation 5G and 6G cellular.

Satellite connectivity is a key capability for Foxconn as it moves into the electric and driverless car business to provide data to and from the vehicles. Chinese car maker Geely is also launching its own satellite constellation for the same reason.

Exolaunch is a global provider of small satellite mission management and deployment services and has deployed over 320 satellites into orbit using its proprietary deployment technologies, including new satellites from ICEYE on the launch last weekend.

“This latest LSA with Foxconn comes at a watershed moment for Exolaunch, as we are broadening our team and capabilities within the launch service industry globally,” said Jeanne Allarie, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Exolaunch. “Exolaunch has worked directly with customers over the last ten years listening closely to the needs of cutting-edge satellite industry players. Supporting a company as widely known and depended on as Foxconn is an honour and culmination of this hard work.”

“This is a pilot run as proof of the concept for our efforts in LEO satellite broadband communications and next-gen, beyond 5G (B5G) capabilities. It is also a great example of collaboration between academia and industry. Exolaunch plays a crucial role in getting our mission to space,” said Dr Jen-Ming Wu, Director of the Next-generation Communications Research Center at Hon Hai Research Institute.

“In the B5G and new space era, the launch of LEO satellites will become ever more cost-competitive and convenient. Foxconn’s first PEARL is meant to show we will be ready to meet the increase in demand for key components, sub-system, and assembly integration test, driving higher circulation and innovation in the new space industry,” said Jesse Chao Sr. Director, B5G Policy, Corporate Policy at Hon Hai, which owns Foxconn.

Exolaunch is also developing Reliant, a line of environmentally friendly orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs), for last-mile satellite delivery, in-space logistics, and space debris removal. Exolaunch is committed to making space accessible and promoting its safe, sustainable, and responsible use.

Other European operators ICEYE, UnseenLabs and Saab also launched satellites on the SpaceX rocket alongside the Foxconn satellites.

The new satellites, BRO-10 and BRO-11, for UnseenLabs in France will be used to monitor the presence of any ship, whether cooperating or not, regardless of its geographical location. BRO-10 and BRO-11 are now in orbit at an altitude of 520km as part of a constellation of 11 satellites.

Ymir-1, a satellite equipped with technology from Saab, was also launched for maritime communication. The Swedish-built satellite Ymir-1 is a tool for research and development, developed in collaboration between Saab, AAC Clyde Space in Glasgow and ORBCOMM within the AOS consortium.

Ymir-1 is a test satellite and part of the development of the next generation of the Automatic Identification System (AIS), a system used by ships to communicate position, speed, course, and other data. AIS is a requirement for all larger ships and boats in civilian traffic. Saab TransponderTech is a leading manufacturer of AIS transponders and has built the advanced transponder onboard the satellite.

“Saab’s focus is innovation and to be at the forefront of technology. By using the space domain, we can strengthen and improve already existing products in our portfolio. The satellite launch is an important step in our investment in space and demonstrates our ability to utilise available Saab technology to, together with our partners, create new, unique space applications,” says Christian Hedelin, Chief Strategy Officer at Saab.

The increasing number of ships at sea means AIS will be upgraded to a new technology known as VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) which will provide secure two-way communication via satellites with global coverage compared to today’s systems which are limited to coastal communication.

The project will continue throughout 2024.;;;




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