Since 2017, Swarm Technologies has built, launched and operated nine miniature satellites, raised more than $28 million for a 150-spacecraft constellation and forged agreements with some 200 potential customers. The company’s most impressive accomplishment, though, isn’t on that list.
LeoLabs, a company mapping low Earth orbit with ground-based radars, unveiled a commercial tracking service called LeoTrack for small satellites and cubesats Aug. 5 at the Small Satellite Conference here.
Swarm Technologies’ self-stated mission is to bring internet access to the whole world, but it’s best known at this point for defying the U.S. Federal Communications Commission by launching four tiny SpaceBee satellites last year without a license.
The new Series A funds will go toward deploying the company’s full constellation over the next 18 months, as well as adding new hires and boosting technology development.
In an interview, Gude said he is not Swarm’s mandated compliance director, but will be helping Swarm navigate through the global regulatory landscape as its general counsel and head of regulatory affairs.
Swarm Technologies will pay $900,000 to settle an investigation by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission into the startup’s launch of four picosatellites on an Indian rocket this January without regulatory approval, the FCC announced Dec. 20.
Incidents with SpaceX and Swarm Technologies may result in more scrutiny of space companies by these and other regulators, like the FAA, even as the White House backs efforts to update and streamline rules governing commercial space activities.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on April 12 released an enforcement advisory warning that organizations will be penalized for launching spacecraft without the appropriate regulatory approvals and advised launch providers they should be ready to remove unauthorized spacecraft from their rockets if necessary.
The launch of several cubesats by an American company without authorization from a federal agency has the rest of the industry worried of a potential regulatory and public relations backlash.