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TAMPA, Fla. — GHGSat has ordered another four 16U cubesats from Spire Global for a launch no earlier than 2024 to expand its greenhouse gas-monitoring constellation, the Canadian satellite operator announced Aug. 8.
The satellites, each the size of 16 cubesats, are identical to the three GHGSat ordered from Spire last year for a launch in late 2023.
GHGSat currently has nine satellites in low Earth orbit, built by the University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) and are about the same size.
The seven additional satellites from Spire will increase the frequency of the constellation’s observations and coverage as part of plans to monitor emissions daily from every industrial source, GHGSat said without elaborating.
Spire and GHGSat declined to disclose the value of their expanded contract.
The constellation uses gas-detection payloads from Switzerland-based ABB to track methane emissions from carbon-intensive industries such as oil and gas, coal mining, waste management, and agriculture.
According to GHGSat, its services can help organizations detect methane leaks, quantify their emissions for regulators, and support strategies for reducing environmental harm.
Vienna, Virginia-headquartered Spire is building satellites for GHGSat at manufacturing facilities in Scotland, United Kingdom.
GHGSat said the contract demonstrates its growing commitment to the United Kingdom, where it announced a contract in June to share emissions data with the UK Space Agency for research and development purposes.
Spire unveiled its 16U platform last year and it is currently the largest satellite offered by the company.
Virgin Orbit was due to launch Spire’s first 16U cubesat — for Canadian space situational awareness venture NorthStar Earth and Space — in mid-2023 before collapsing into bankruptcy.
Rocket Lab is now slated to launch NorthStar’s first four 16U satellites from Spire this fall on an Electron rocket.
Spire operates satellites on behalf of its customers under its space-as-a-service business model to save them costs and other burdens, although the spacecraft for GHGSat would still be purpose-built for the Canadian firm’s payloads.
In contrast, GHGSat fully owns the nine satellites it ordered from SFL.
SFL director Robert Zee said Aug. 8 that GHGSat’s latest three satellites are performing well after launching in April on SpaceX’s Transporter-7 Falcon 9 rideshare mission.
Other ventures plotting similar methane-monitoring satellite businesses include France-based Absolut Group and Satlantis of Spain.
In December, Absolut Group ordered a 16U demo satellite from Lithuanian manufacturer NanoAvionics for a launch in early 2024 called Gen1, which would use sensors at very low temperatures to detect greenhouse gas leaks.
SpaceNews senior staff writer Jeff Foust contributed to this article from Logan, Utah.
Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information... More by Jason Rainbow
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