Phantom Space, a Tucson, Arizona-based space transportation and rocket manufacturing startup, has reached a deal valued at up to $240 million to design, build and launch a 72-satellite constellation that will carry Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) payloads for wireless network provider Ingenu.
The Internet of Things is a series of physical objects embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet and other communications networks.
Under the agreement, Phantom will develop spacecraft buses and system integration that will be used to launch Ingenu's AFNIO constellation, the world's first space-based public network exclusively for machine-to-machine communications designed to provide global coverage and longer-lasting battery life than any existing satellite network.
The constellation will initially focus on providing end-to-end solutions for smart grid, smart factory, smart agriculture, smart cities, oil & gas, mining, asset tracking and logistics. The majority of the satellites are expected to launch on Phantom's Daytona launch vehicle in late 2023.
The partnership comes as Phantom Space is looking to lower the barriers for new commercial applications in space, according to co-founder and CEO Jim Cantrell.
"By working with a company like Ingenu, we are partnering to deliver Ingenu's value into a space platform where it can have a worldwide impact on their customers," Cantrell added. "This partnership brings both of us closer to our goal of providing the much-needed disruptive benefits of space technology directly to the consumer."
Though Ingenu's long-range, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology for the Internet of Things has been deployed in more than 50 terrestrial networks on five continents over the past ten years, chief executive officer Alvaro Gazzolo says the new partnership with Phantom will allow the company to move forward in a more "rapid and cost effective manner."
"We'll be able to build and operate a system of satellites that makes it possible for us to offer people full end-to-end solutions anywhere on earth and complement existing customers' terrestrial networks," Gazzolo added. "Nothing of the sort has ever been done up until now."
In addition to supporting new commercial applications in space, Phantom is looking to position itself as the "Henry Ford" of space transportation, with plans to launch hundreds of rockets per year.
Correction: This article previously stated that Ingenu is a subsidiary of John Deere, however it is not. In a statement, Ingenu said John Deere dealers, and to a lesser extent John Deere Corporate, are "aware of Ingenu's satellite initiatives in regards to what benefits those initiatives in conjunction with their technology can bring to their environment."