3 mins read 21 Jan 2022

Spiral Blue Edge Computers Reach Orbit Aboard SpaceX Rocket

Australian company Spiral Blue has successfully delivered Space Edge Zero computers into orbit on a SpaceX mission.

The Nvidia Jetson nano core, which makes up part of the Space Edge Zero computer. Credit: Nvidia.

It was another successful delivery into orbit for Sydney-based space start-up, Spiral Blue, after their unique Space Edge Zero computers were sent into space, aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-3 rideshare mission from Florida. 

This marks the second orbital launch of the prototype computers into orbit by Spiral Blue, who have once again worked with Polish satellite manufacturer, SatRevolution - utilising the SWIFT satellite.   

The Space Edge Zero (SEZ) computer will introduce in-space processing of satellite images, which is relatively new technology with Earth Observation (EO) satellites. Traditionally, EO data - which is high resolution, and therefore large in file size - has to be downloaded in its raw format from the satellite to Earth, and then heavily processed to be usable for non-technical professionals. 

The disruption to this process that the SEZ computer improves on is the efficiency of image processing onboard the satellite, before transmitting the smaller-sized file back down to Earth, streamlining the process and improving productivity for the end-user by making it more accessible and affordable. 

The SEZ computer, which was delivered to orbit on 13 January, is hosted onboard SatRevolution’s SWIFT satellite and has been deployed by Italian company D-Orbit on their orbital transfer vehicle ION Satellite Carrier. This successful launch will allow Spiral Blue to continue testing its first prototype of the SEZ computer.

“This second orbital launch is no less exciting than our first,” said Spiral Blue CEO Taofiq Huq. 

“We intend to continue launching throughout 2022 and early 2023 as we bring our hardware and software to operational status, also known as TRL 7. This continuous space qualification program enables us to rapidly iterate on and improve our technology over time.”

Spiral Blue and SatRevolution have teamed up before. In July 2021, SatRevolution hosted Spiral Blue’s prototype of the SEZ computers on their STORK satellites and were sent into orbit on Virgin Orbit’s rideshare mission “Tubular Bells, Part One”. Testing and commissioning of these satellites and SEZ computer payloads is ongoing, and already Spiral Blue has learned some preliminary lessons for upcoming missions.

In 2022, Spiral Blue will be launching no earlier than June with satellite operator and manufacturer Satellogic as part of their Hosted Payloads Program. This will carry an upgraded version of the SEZ computer called Space Edge-1 (SE-1). SE-1 will also be onboard the Waratah Seed mission after winning first joint prize in the Waratah Seed competition.

Spiral Blue is also a recipient of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement Grant. This grant will support the development of Spiral Blue’s Space Edge Services platform.