GHGSat to launch three spacecraft on Falcon 9

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WASHINGTON — GHGSat, a Canadian company planning a constellation of satellites to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, announced Dec. 8 it will launch its next three satellites on a Falcon 9 in mid-2022.

The company said the three nanosatellites, GHGSat-C3, -C4 and -C5, will go on SpaceX’s Transporter-5 rideshare mission scheduled for the summer of 2022. The company did not disclose the terms of the contract.

The three satellites, each weighing 15 kilograms, are being built by the University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) with gas detection payloads provided by ABB. GHGSat said that the payload for GHGSat-C3 has been integrated with the spacecraft, and the payloads for GHGSat-C4 and -C5 will be integrated later in December.

The three new satellites, built under a contract awarded in November 2020, are similar to the GHGSat-C1 and -C2 satellites launched in September 2020 and January 2021, respectively, also built by SFL. The new satellites include improvements in their data processing and communications subsystems.

GHGSat is developing a constellation of satellites to track emissions of greenhouse gases, notably methane, from oil and gas facilities and other industries. The company raised $45 million in a Series B round in July to fund development of those satellites and secured $20 million Canadian ($15.8 million) in November from the Canadian government for that satellite system.

The company and the Canadian government announced at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland in November that they would contribute data from those satellites to the International Methane Emissions Observatory, a project to collect and verify emissions data. The data will be used to locate and mitigate sources of methane emissions.

“Satellite data is critical for stakeholders globally to take immediate action for a sustainable future. GHGSat is serving this need with our growing constellation,” Stephane Germain, chief executive of GHGSat, said in a statement.

In addition to the three satellites scheduled to launch in mid-2022, the company is starting planning for seven more satellites. Six of the satellites, GHGSat-C6 through -C11, will be used for tracking emissions, while GHGSat-C12 will carry a payload for monitoring carbon dioxide emissions.

GHGSat has ordered the payloads for those seven satellites from ABB. A company spokesperson said those satellites are projected to launch at the end of 2023.