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LacunaSat-2B successfully completes mission and deorbits sustainably

Written by  Thursday, 20 June 2024 08:02
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A nanosatellite that supported global connectivity by collecting data from Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in remote locations, LacunaSat-2B, has successfully completed its three-year mission and deorbited into Earth's atmosphere in late April. During its mission, the satellite demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and provided previously inaccessible data for various sectors, including environmental studies, agriculture and wildlife monitoring.

Collaboration and commitment to sustainability

Launched in March 2021, LacunaSat-2B was made possible through the collaboration of ESA, IoT connectivity provider Lacuna Space, and mission operator Open Cosmos. The CubeSat was developed under an ESA Pioneer Partnership Project and received support from the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) and Core Competitiveness programmes. Additionally, the project was co-funded by Lacuna Space, Open Cosmos and the UK Space Agency.

As ESA, Lacuna Space and Open Cosmos share a common commitment to sustainability, and the 'zero debris by 2030' aim, the spacecraft was intentionally launched with a naturally decaying orbit that continuously brought it closer to Earth. This approach was well within ESA’s Space Debris Mitigation requirement of a five-year deorbit, as the satellite completely burned up upon atmospheric re-entry.

Impact and success of LacunaSat-2B

As part of Lacuna's satellite constellation, LacunaSat-2B played a crucial role in enabling a variety of projects aimed at sustainable resource utilisation and securing the planet's future. The satellite helped provide connectivity in remote locations, including those at sea or in hard-to-reach areas such as deserts or rural regions. Additionally, the satellite worked within Lacuna’s constellation to support numerous applications, from tracking elephants in Africa to collecting vital environmental data from isolated regions of South America.

One market that particularly benefits from Lacuna’s constellation is agriculture. Often located in remote areas beyond the reach of terrestrial networks, agricultural operations are seeing increased efficiency in land, water and fertiliser use thanks to Lacuna’s IoT satellite monitoring capabilities. LacunaSat-2B has also contributed to environmental studies, providing weather data, monitoring pollution and supporting carbon sequestration projects by verifying carbon credits.

Lacuna’s ground-breaking IoT payload technology demonstrates how satellites, such as LacunaSat-2B, can receive long-range, low-power signals directly from devices on Earth. The satellite's design prioritised robustness and resilience, ensuring reliability during launch and in-space operation. LacunaSat-2B's success has demonstrated the real-world impact of space technology and helped pave the way for Lacuna's expansion plans, including expanding their constellation.

“ESA has played a vital role in the successful mission of the LacunaSat-2B satellite, benefiting end users with reliable connectivity across the globe for the past three years. Working with our partners, Lacuna Space and Open Cosmos, the satellite has provided benefits to a multitude of sectors which impact our daily lives, ranging from Internet-of-Thing devices to secure monitoring and environmental applications. The satellite is also a testament to how missions can exceed expectations with sustainability in mind from the beginning with its successful natural de-orbit,” said Laurent Jaffart, Director of ESA’s Connectivity and Secure Communications Directorate.

"LacunaSat-2B was the second satellite launched by Open Cosmos, marking a pivotal moment for the company. We are incredibly proud of the foundation technologies which we developed under the PIONEER programme and now form the baseline of all of our satellites. Every time a satellite is launched, there is an element of risk associated with it. That we have a 100% success rate in orbit and satellites fulfilling the full three-year mission requirements is all down to the exceptional team of engineers we have developing this infrastructure,” said Jordi Barrera Ars, Chief Technical Officer at Open Cosmos.

“Since its launch in March 2021, the first of Lacuna’s second-generation satellites, LacunaSat-2B, has performed flawlessly, providing over three years of continuous connectivity within the Lacuna IoT service. We look forward to our next generation of IoT satellites that will further improve our monitoring capabilities, allowing us to provide services for even more sectors with increased reliability and performance. As we successfully de-orbit LacunaSat-2B, we reaffirm our commitment to preserving Low-Earth Orbit’s cleanliness and accessibility for future users, including ourselves,” said Jon Pearce, Chief Commercial Officer at Lacuna Space.

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