Polish space startup selects Clyde Space as subcontractor for earth observation satellite project

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WARSAW, Poland — Polish space industry startup KP Labs has awarded an order to Scottish cubesat manufacturer Clyde Space which will act as a subcontractor for the company’s Intuition-1 project. The cuboid-shaped 6U-class cubesat is to be the first commercial satellite to be fitted with enough processing power to conduct hyperspectral imagery segmentation in orbit.

Gliwice, Poland-based KP Labs says its Intuition-1 is to perform Earth observation with the use of a hyperspectral instrument and advanced data processing based on deep neural networks that will be placed onboard the satellite. This will enable the cubesat to rapidly assess the condition of plants and forests, forecast crop yield, or create pollution maps for cities, according to company representatives.

“We selected Clyde Space as a subcontractor to build a satellite platform and organize Intuition-1’s launch. Recently signed contract covers these services,” Grzegorz Łada, a project manager at KP Labs, told SpaceNews.

“The project is scheduled to be implemented between January 2018 and December 2023. Currently, we are in the process of research and development which will continue until the end of 2019. Between 2020 and 2021, the satellite will be integrated, and in early 2022, we will perform qualification tests. The launch, which will put the satellite into the 600-kilometer low Earth orbit, is planned for the period between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. The basic mission of the satellite will start in 2023,” Łada said.

Jarosław Kacprzak, the company’s public relations manager, said that KP Labs chose Clyde Space’s offer after a nine-month evaluation of eight offers submitted by companies from Europe and the United States.

The Polish company says that, while it cannot disclose the contract details, the value exceeds 500,000 British pounds ($382,000). Under the deal, Clyde Space will develop the satellite bus, including thee onboard computer, communications systems, attitude control system and the electrical power system. The Scottish manufacturer will also be responsible for preparing the satellite for the launch and organizing it.

Set up in 2016 by a team of engineers from the Silesian University of Technology, KP Labs says it is focused on satellite and IT solutions for Earth observation, computer vision and machine learning. The company began to work on the cubesat in 2018.

The Polish company will develop the satellite as part of its HyperCam project which is co-financed by the country’s National Center for Research and Development. The state-run institution distributes European Union funds to innovative projects in numerous sectors, including the space industry. The project is worth about 19.3 million zloty ($5.1 million), of which the NCBR is to cover more than 13.9 million zloty, according to data from the institution.

Clyde Space is owned by Sweden’s ÅAC Microtec, a satellite platform supplier whose customers include Airbus, Raytheon, Thales Alenia Space, the European Space Agency, NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, among others.

Clyde Space, meanwhile, announced April 9 that it is partnering with machine-to-machine satellite operator Orbcomm to build and launch two Automatic Identification System-enabled cubesats in 2020 under a project worth nearly $6 million over five years.