Tech: Kleos will change the orbit of its spy satellites to hunt pirates
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Relegated to the very bottom of a news announcement today that Kleos Space is changing the orbit inclination of its spy satellites is the following quote from its CEO Andy Bower:
“In the last month alone, at least 20 ships have switched off their transponders in the Strait of Hormuz to avoid detection.”
It is rare that ASX announcements contain such interesting little tidbits of news. But Kleos Space (ASX:KSS), which styles itself as a “reconnaissance data-as-a-service” company, bucked the trend on Monday morning, revealing it can use its satellites to track radio transmissions.
“When a ship goes dark to vanish from global tracking systems, Kleos satellites can locate them through their radio frequency transmissions,” Bower told investors. “Our customers eagerly await our data.”
The company was due to launch its satellites in mid-July, but that was postponed because of delays at its launch provider Rocket Lab.
Kleos took the downtime to reassess market demand for its spy satellites, and this morning announced an orbit change to 37-degree inclination, which will give the cluster of four satellites improved data collection by up to 4.5 times over crucial shipping target regions such as the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, Australian coast, southern US coast and the east and western African coasts.
“Since the original choice of orbit was made over a year ago, the threat level in the equatorial regions has increased and Kleos has made significant progress in engaging the market and securing defence and security customers who have an interest in these regions, where increased coverage provides better data and improved mission critical information for customers,” the company said.
The next step now is launch. Rocket Lab has been given the boot, with an Indian rocket set to take up Kleos’ satellites “keeping within the Q4 2019 launch window”.
“The change in inclination opportunity allows Kleos to deliver more frequent and higher value coverage for a broad spectrum of users – through defence, security and commercial operations in their key areas of interest when compared to the previous orbit,” Bower said.
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