Kleos Space operates a constellation of RF reconnaissance satellites. Credit: Kleos Space

ST. LOUIS – Kleos Space presented a technical paper at the GEOINT 2021 Symposium that showed better-than-expected performance of its RF reconnaissance satellites.

The Luxembourg-based startup tested the RF-mapping capabilities of its first cubesat cluster by homing in on a 4.2-watt beacon on the Republic of Cabo Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

Kleos estimates of the position of the beacon had errors ranging from 0.32 to 32 kilometers. Each position was described with a “confidence ellipse.” The size of the ellipse reflected the quality of the RF signal received and the level of interference present at the time the signal was acquired.

The highest-confidence estimate pinpointed the beacon to an ellipse that extended 4.5 kilometers along the semi-major axis and 0.26 kilometers along the semi-minor axis.

Vincent Furia, Kleos chief technology officer, called the results of the demonstration “better than expected,” adding that Kleos will improve “revisit rates over key areas of interest” by launching additional satellite clusters.

Kleos launched its first cluster of four cubesats in 2020 and its second cluster in June on the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-2 rideshare mission. Another Kleos cluster is scheduled to reach orbit on the next SpaceX Transporter rideshare flight, currently scheduled for late December.

In the years ahead, Kleos plans to launch as many as 20 clusters of RF-reconnaissance satellites.

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...