Kleos Space is preparing to launch four cubesats to fly in formation and geolocate radio frequency signals. Credit: Kleos Space

SAN ANTONIO – Luxembourg-based Kleos Space is preparing to launch its first satellites in August to detect radio transmissions and pinpoint their origin.

Kleos will focus on “radio frequency reconnaissance, looking at how different parts of the spectrum are being used and what we can do with that information,” Kleos CEO Andrew Bowyer told SpaceNews.

Kleos plans to send four eight-kilogram cubesats into low Earth orbit in August as the primary payload on a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle. Once in orbit, the satellites built by GomSpace will move into a loose tetrahedron formation. With four satellites, Kleos’ constellation will provide daily worldwide observations, Bowyer said.

“Radio frequency is an untapped resource,” Bowyer said. “Most companies are focused on imagery and weather data. We want to deliver a very good dataset in this domain.”

Like Hawkeye 360, a U.S. startup tracking RF signals from space, Kleos will observe ships communicating through VHF radios that are not identifying themselves with Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders. “In the absence of AIS and presence of VHS, go and have a look by cueing other assets,” Bowyer said.

Kleos raised money to launch its first four satellites through an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange. Once those satellites are operating and bringing in revenue, the company plans to launch additional satellite clusters to provide more frequent observations, Bowyer said.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...