Making M2M Communication Global
The M2M/IoT market is large and growing fast from 20 B$ today to 75 B$ in 2025 (IHS Forecast). Applications with demand for global connectivity are currently restricted by the reach of terrestrial networks to only about 10% of the Earth’s surface. Satellite constellations can close this gap. However, presently they do not yet play a significant role in IoT communications. Mostly, because their service is costly and the sensors are much bulkier than those of terrestrial networks.
The aim of the M2Space Initiative is to extend the reach of terrestrial networks also to the remote corners of our planet - to make M2M communication truly global - at an attractive price and with (almost) the same ground devices as used by terrestrial M2M service providers.
The M2Space system key features are:
- Small, lightweight sensors compatible with terrestrial IoT-systems / smartphones
- Proprietary constellation orbit design for easy sensor uplink
- Scalable constellation fleet to adapt latency and capacity to business needs
- Collects signals in ISM band (860 to 920 MHz) – 2 seconds, 12 bytes uplink data packages
- Millions of sensors serviced per day by each satellite
- Up to 2000 sensors acquired simultaneously per satellite by 5x2 tuneable receive channels
- Stores raw data and forwards to polar ground stations
- Optional sensor command link
- Local S-Band TT&C stations for satellite command & control
- X-Band receive stations at north&south pole to minimize latency (GEN 1)
- Extended Ground Station Network / Inter-Satellite links (GEN 2)
Unlike other systems, the M2Space satellites acquire sensor data in push-broom mode from within a narrow receive window. Thanks to SpaceTech’s leading edge RF technology, signals below 25 mW transmit power can be received, connecting also the smallest terrestrial sensors directly with space.
The first generation of the M2Space constellation is planned to be implemented in 2 tranches. Tranche One will consist of 4 satellites in 2 orthogonal orbit planes, leading to a latency (time from sensor data acquisition to availability of sensor data on user IT platform) of typically 3 hours and guaranteed less than 7 hours. Tranche Two will place another 12 satellites in 6 further orbit planes, leading to 16 satellites in 8 orbit planes in total, which will reduce the latency to typically 1 hour and guaranteed less than 2 hours.
M2Space Generation Two with 48 satellites in 8 orbit planes will offer quasi-real-time data transmission using an extended ground station network and inter-satellite links.
The M2Space satellites combine SpaceTech’s heritage in robust, low-cost, flexible small satellite design with the latest in-house developments in space electronics. The main characteristics are:
- Satellite class: 200 kg/200 W
- Dimensions: 1.56m x 1.24m x 0.65m (750 liter)
- Leading edge SpaceTech RF payload technology
- Advanced SpaceTech OBCSA-based avionics
- High-efficiency power system with latest AZUR solar cells and high-end SpaceTech MPPT control
- High-precision SpaceTech AOCS for fine constellation control
- High-performance X-Band data downlink with steerable antenna
- Light-weight structure with integrated baseplate and monocoque chassis
- Lifetime > 10 years
Cluster launches on dedicated SpaceTech multi-satellite dispensers will bring the M2Space satellites with other co-passengers into the 600 km near-polar mission orbit. Potential launchers capable of carrying at least six M2Space satellites are VEGA, Soyuz, PSLV and Falcon 9. Space debris mitigation is a key requirement for M2Space – the satellites are designed to fully comply with the European Code of Conduct.
The M2Space Initiative has entered a Consolidation Phase in 2017 to confirm the business plan and the technical design. Upon positive conclusion of the Consolidation Phase, implementation is planned to start end 2018.
Cost is a key issue for space-based IoT services. The fully deployed M2Space Generation 1 Space and Ground Segment is expected to require the following funds:
- Tranche One (4 satellites) including development: 100 M€
- Tranche Two (12 satellites): 210 M€
- 10 M€ per year operational cost for 16 satellites
M2Space will open the door to markets, which are currently inaccessible due to the limitations of terrestrial networks – estimated as 10% of the total IoT market. Based on the related, specific applications the expected M2Space revenue is:
- 30 M€ / Year revenue for Tranche 1
- 100 M€ / Year revenue for Tranche 1&2