Spire’s LEMUR satellite will explore the on-board application of advanced machine learning capabilities
VIENNA, VA — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Spire Global, Inc. (NYSE: SPIR) (“the Company” or “Spire”), a leading provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, today announced a partnership with Dragonfly Aerospace to support the Australian Government’s Office of National Intelligence (ONI) with a second satellite as a part of its ongoing National Intelligence Community Satellite (NICSAT) program. The follow up program, NICSAT2, will see Spire designing, building, and launching the company’s Low Earth Multi-Use Receiver (LEMUR), a 3U CubeSat platform, with the capability of on-board computing and processing of machine learning and artificial intelligence across multi-modal data. Dragonfly Aerospace will provide a high-performance Gecko camera system in addition to its proprietary hardware and space-proven ruggedized optics for an easy-to-integrate imaging solution for the satellite.
The Australian National Intelligence Community (NIC) launched the NICSAT program to experiment with commercial satellite technologies, including the on-board application of advanced machine learning capabilities on CubeSats, like those manufactured by Spire. In keeping with its predecessor, NICSAT2 will be managed by ONI and focused on the application and utility of miniaturized satellite systems, especially in regard to machine learning. Both programs are unclassified science and technology programs, focused on innovative engineering and research that aim to utilize commercial satellites to improve data collection and analysis.
With the large influx of data sent to Earth, corporations, governments and other organizations increasingly need advanced systems and processes to efficiently understand the data received. AI-assisted processing within satellites allows operators to unburden ground stations and other infrastructure and focus resources on analyzing mission critical information in space. ONI recognizes the potential application of semi-supervised or unsupervised learning methods for in orbit autonomous machine learning to, amongst other things, enable autonomous sensor operations, speed analytics and data processing, reduce downlink requirements, and better enable human analysts.
Spire previously worked on the NICSAT program’s satellite, Djara, last year. The mission focus of Djara is to conduct experiments with systems that enable the on-orbit collection and analysis of data including commercially available sensors and technologies such as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Machine Learning systems on a chip. The satellite went from concept to launch in just six months and to full operation in just nine months. Currently in orbit, Djara collects and processes data on orbit and then leverages Spire’s cloud infrastructure to downlink, further process, and analyze data.
“The success of Djara and the NICSAT program show the importance of CubeSats’ role in data collection and analysis to government mission success,” said Theresa Condor, Chief Operating Officer at Spire Global, “With our continued work on NICSAT2, Spire and Dragonfly Aerospace will be able to continue to support the Australian government and demonstrate the immense benefit and innovation that private and public partnerships can bring.”
In 2021, Dragonfly Aerospace began its rapid growth process. It became possible due to the support of space entrepreneur Max Polyakov, who acquired the company earlier this year. Dragonfly has now completed the upgrade of its 3000m2 design and manufacturing facility in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This marks a turning point in the company’s progression as it starts actively ramping up for the serial production of satellites and payloads. Today the team of specialists have an ambitious goal to build up to 48 imaging satellites per year as well as to deliver 10 satellites per year and already in 2022 is preparing for the production of 4 satellites.
“Dragonfly Aerospace’s Gecko camera and optics system will elevate the satellite’s imaging capabilities and improve the image quality sent back to the ONI,” said Bryan Dean, CEO of from Dragonfly Aerospace. “Spire’s proven success with NICSAT made them an ideal partner to continue to support the Australian government and we look forward to working together.”
NICSAT2 was successfully launched aboard the SpaceX Transporter-3 mission on January 13th, 2022.
About Spire Global, Inc.
Spire is a leading global provider of space-based data, analytics, and space services, offering access to unique datasets and powerful insights about Earth from the ultimate vantage point so that organizations can make decisions with confidence, accuracy, and speed. Spire uses one of the world’s largest multi-purpose satellite constellations to source hard to acquire, valuable data and enriches it with predictive solutions. Spire then provides this data as a subscription to organizations around the world so they can improve business operations, decrease their environmental footprint, deploy resources for growth and competitive advantage, and mitigate risk. Spire gives commercial and government organizations the competitive advantage they seek to innovate and solve some of the world’s toughest problems with insights from space. Spire has offices in San Francisco, Boulder, Washington DC, Glasgow, Luxembourg, and Singapore. To learn more, visit spire.com.