D-Orbit to deploy 20 Astrocast satellites over three years

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LOGAN, Utah — Italy’s D-Orbit said Aug. 9 that it would launch 20 nanosatellites over three years for Swiss startup Astrocast with its orbital transfer vehicle.

The first mission under their agreement is slated for no sooner than November 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, which will launch D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier with four Astrocast satellites onboard.

Each satellite in this batch is 3U, or the size of three cubesats, and will be dropped off at a 500-600-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) to improve coverage for Astrocast’s internet of things (IoT) constellation.

D-Orbit plans to launch another batch of six 6U satellites for Astrocast in 2023 and 10 more in 2024 to complete the launch agreement.

Astrocast currently has 12 3U satellites, including two test spacecraft, and aims to expand its network to 20 satellites before the end of 2022. 

In addition to D-Orbit, Astrocast chief financial officer Kjell Karlsen said the Swiss operator also has launch agreements with U.S. rideshare provider Spaceflight this year.

Astrocast plans to grow the constellation to 40 satellites in 2023 and to operate 100 of them by 2025.

To help fund this expansion, Astrocast — which already trades as a public company on Norway’s Euronext Growth Oslo stock market — is looking to raise 60-80 million euros ($64-86 million) by listing shares on the Euronext Growth Paris junior stock market.

The company had been preparing to complete this offering of shares this summer, but “global market conditions prevented it,” Karlsen said. “We are now working with our advisers to determine the right window for the offering,” he added.

In May, Astrocast said it plans to issue new shares to buy Dutch connectivity solutions provider Hiber, which agreed to invest around $11 million in Astrocast’s second stock market as part of the acquisition. Karlsen said that the acquisition is contingent on Astrocast’s secondary stock market listing in France, “but we have full confidence that we will meet it and close during 2022.”

Fabien Jordan, Astrocast’s CEO, said in a statement: “It is important for European space companies to work together to find solutions that increase the competitiveness of European space, and we believe that working with D-Orbit enables this for Astrocast,” Astrocast CEO and co-founder Fabien Jordan said.

Following the launch with D-Orbit via U.S.-based SpaceX, Jordan said Astrocast is looking forward to “potential future missions on European rockets.”