‘Mission ready’ Kleos Space prepares to deploy nanosatellites from India

Kleos Space ASX KSS satellite launch
Kleos Space will launch its cluster of four satellites in December from Chennai in India.

Space enabled AI company Kleos Space (ASX: KSS) has received confirmation that its first space scouting mission will launch on a PSLV rocket from Chennai, India in December this year.

The launch means Kleos will operate several satellites for the purposes of guarding borders, protecting maritime assets and delivering “global activity-based intelligence and geolocation” as a service to both public and private companies worldwide.

The first Kleos space satellite system, known as the “Kleos Scouting Mission” (KSM), will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration.

More importantly, the mission will form the foundation of future constellations, according to Kleos chief executive officer Andy Bowyer.

Mr Bowyer declared Kleos’ inaugural space launch as “mission ready” with the company “on track to generate first revenues in Q1 2020,” he said.

Space-bound

In a statement to the market, Kleos said a cluster of four satellites were now awaiting PSLV integration having already passed a “deployer fit check” confirming their conformity to PSLV requirements.

The four-week launch preparation schedule will commence in mid-November with shipping of high purity butane satellite fuel to the launch integration facility in Chennai now underway.

The scouting mission satellites are set to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre aboard PSLV C49, as part of what’s known as a “rideshare launch” including satellites from other organisations such as Spire Global, a US-based space-to-cloud data and analytics company first founded by Peter Platzer, Joel Spark and Jeroen Cappaert.

Kleos said its nanosatellites will be launched into a 37-degree inclination delivering optimised revisit rates over crucial shipping regions including the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea and both the east and west coasts of Africa.

The nanosatellites will then geolocate maritime radio frequency transmissions to provide global activity-based intelligence irrespective of the presence of AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) or any other positioning system, or when imagery is unclear and targets are out of maritime patrol range.

If successful, the additional data that is collected will enable governments and private companies to detect hidden maritime activity such as drug and people smuggling, piracy and illegal fishing as well as identify those in need of search and rescue at sea.

Expanding nanosatellite operations

After completing an initial scouting mission, Kleos intends to extend the development of its nanosatellite network by launching a second cluster of satellites designed to expand coverage, enhance data collection, as well as, increasing potential revenues and customers.

Kleos said this second phase is currently “in progress”.

Meanwhile, while launch preparations for both the first and second payloads are underway, Kleos remains focused on securing additional government and commercial pre-order contracts.

As part of its bid to expand its commercial footprint to supplement its growing nanosatellite network, Kleos confirmed that it has incorporated a US subsidiary to integrate and sell its maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data to US defence contractors.

The new US subsidiary, Kleos Space Inc, is expected to provide Kleos with access to government funding and projects which would otherwise be restricted to non-US entities.

As a prime example, Kleos will obtain access to Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding, the US Air Force Accelerator program and other grants from federal US defence projects which contribute to scientific or technological advances.

The space-bound company said it intends to target the US$692 billion US national security budget and has appointed Karyn Hayes-Ryan as a director of its US company to lead the company’s local strategy.

Ms Hayes-Ryan is a former intelligence community and Department of Defense (DoD) senior executive with extensive experience in federal acquisition regulation, procurement and integration.

Additional funding

Despite being on the cusp of generating the first revenues from its nanosatellite network, Kleos has decided to draw down $2.2 million in borrowing as part of a structured $3.3 million debt instrument.

Kleos opted to tap into $2.2 million to provide working capital, up to and including its imminent scouting mission launch in Q4 2019, declaring that “first revenues will flow shortly after”.

As part of a sales offensive, Kleos has deployed chairman and executive director, Air Commodore Peter Round to the Pacific 2019 international maritime exposition, hosted by Austrade where he will meet with leading Australian Government and industry representatives to promote Kleos’ intelligence capability.

In addition, vice president of business development Danny McGrane has been sent to Colorado Springs to secure commercial contracts as part of the USAF Accelerator Program, a 12-week, semi-residential program sponsored by Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

The program is designed to increase the US Air Force’s awareness and rapid acquisition of commercial dual-use space technology by providing relevant business development training to participating companies and connecting them with users, decision-makers and potential new customers in the US Department of Defense.

In South America, Kleos said it intends to break into the region’s €45 billion maritime and port sector and has sent Pierre Duquesne as its representative.

So far, Kleos has confirmed that it has already signed three pre-orders and expects to secure further commercial interest after the launch of its first scouting mission in December.

This morning’s news boosted Kleos’ shares to $0.30, up more than 7% in morning trade.