WASHINGTON — Rwanda-backed megaconstellation startup E-Space said March 21 it has contracted Rocket Lab to launch three demo satellites in the second quarter of this year.
The spacecraft aim to validate systems and technology for a broadband network that, according to founder and CEO Greg Wyler, will use satellites with significantly smaller cross-sections than other megaconstellations to reduce the risk of in-orbit collisions.
Despite having spectrum filings for “potentially over one hundred thousand” satellites through Rwanda, Wyler says E-space will have a net positive impact on the space environment because its satellites will capture and deorbit debris too small to track.
While the demo satellites E-Space is building in-house will not include this capability, the startup plans to begin serial satellite production in 2023.
The first three demo satellites are slated to launch aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula.
“E-Space will increase the speed for constellation delivery from years to months, allowing new opportunities for more people to access space-based platforms,” Wyler said in a statement.
In early February, E-Space announced it had raised $50 million in seed funding.