LeoLabs unveils commercial satellite tracking service for small satellites

Space

LOGAN, UTAH – LeoLabs, a space situational awareness company, unveiled a small satellite tracking service called LeoTrack Aug. 5 at the Small Satellite Conference here.

LeoTrack, which LeoLabs sells through web-based subscriptions, provides small satellite and cubesat operators with a range of services and information including spacecraft tracking, orbital state vectors, predictive radar availability, scheduled passes and visualization tools.

One thing that makes the service unique is its precision, Mike Nicolls, Leolabs co-founder and chief technology officer, told SpaceNews. LeoTrack can pinpoint the location of satellites to within something “on the order of a hundred meters,” and provide customers with “validated solutions and validated uncertainties on all of our objects we track,” he added.

Space-Track.org, the website that shares satellite tracking data from the U.S. Joint Forces Space Component Command offers precision measured in kilometers.

Several high-profile customers already subscribe to LeoTrack including BlackSky, Maxar Technologies, Planet and Swarm Technologies.

A standard, 12-month LeoTracks subscription costs $2,500 per month per satellite. LeoLabs will negotiate pricing with companies operating fleets of more than five or six satellites and with customers who have unique requirements like data licensing, Nicolls said.

With a subscription, customers gain access to the LeoTrack platform and its visualization tools. “You can visualize where your objects are now,” Nicolls said. “You can propagate them forward in time and you can embed the visualization in other applications.”

Swarm’s website home page includes a LeoTrack visualization. It shows the orbital locations of Swarm’s SpaceBee satellites, which are one-quarter the size of a single cubesat.

“At Swarm, we rely on the LeoTrack service to get accurate position information for all of our one-quarter-U satellites,” Swarm CEO Sara Spangelo said in a statement. “Having access to this data is key for us at initial deployment and throughout the lifetime of the satellites. We use it for operational purposes, to share with other space operators and for the general public on our website.”

LeoLabs tracks objects in low Earth orbit with phased-array radars in Alaska and Texas. The company is building another radar in New Zealand, which it plans to begin operating by the end of the year. LeoLabs also created a tool to help the New Zealand Space Agency  monitor satellites in low Earth orbit.

“Our goal at LeoLabs is to provide services to every satellite operator in low earth orbit from major constellation operators to university research satellites,” Nicolls said.

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