Tue. Feb 27th, 2024
Pixxel Set to Revolutionize Earth Imaging with Fireflies Satellites

Bengaluru-based start-up Pixxel is gearing up to launch a groundbreaking series of small satellites called Fireflies, offering a finer and more comprehensive view of the Earth. These home-built satellites will feature hyper-spectral imagery with a five-meter resolution, allowing for highly detailed monitoring of the planet. The company’s satellite manufacturing unit, Mega Pixxel, has already been established in Bengaluru, where Pixxel plans to assemble, integrate, and test 40 satellites weighing 100 kilogrammes each per year.

Pixxel’s founder and CEO, Awais Ahmed, explains the commercial viability of these micro-satellites, stating, “Our 100-kilogramme satellites are capable of performing a multitude of tasks, and we can produce 20 of them simultaneously. With a turnaround time of approximately six months from assembly to launch, we can manufacture up to 40 satellites annually.”

Scheduled for launch in June, Pixxel aims to deploy six Fireflies satellites initially, followed by an additional 12 in the following year. These satellites will be capable of monitoring over 250 spectral bands at a five-meter spatial resolution, which is the highest achievable for commercial hyper-spectral satellites. Pixxel’s long-term plans include launching six heavier satellites called Honeybees in the next year, completing their constellation of 24 satellites. This constellation will possess the ability to revisit any location on Earth within a 24-hour cycle.

In terms of resolution, the Fireflies surpass the demonstration satellites Shakuntala and Anand, which Pixxel previously launched in 2022 aboard SpaceX and PSLV rockets. The newly inaugurated satellite manufacturing facility in Bengaluru spans over 30,000 square feet and boasts state-of-the-art clean rooms to ensure the maximum functionality of the satellites during assembly and integration.

By manufacturing and testing the satellites in-house, Pixxel gains greater control over the supply chain and assembly sequence, allowing for faster iterations. With USD 36 million already secured in Series B funding, Pixxel aims to focus on execution and plans to seek additional funding after the successful launch of Fireflies in June.

Pixxel’s growing clientele includes the Union Ministry of Agriculture, Rio Tinto, and the National Reconnaissance Organisation of the US, among others. The data collected by Pixxel’s satellites will significantly contribute to monitoring emissions, water pollution, gas leaks, oil spills, soil composition, forest biodiversity, and crop health at an unprecedented level of detail and speed. Furthermore, Pixxel recently won the iDEX grant to construct a satellite bus for the Indian Air Force, highlighting their commitment to advancing the space industry.

Pixxel is on the verge of transforming Earth imaging capabilities with the upcoming launch of its Fireflies satellites, unlocking new opportunities for environmental monitoring and research.

An FAQ Section Based on the Article:

Q: What is Pixxel?
A: Pixxel is a Bengaluru-based start-up involved in satellite manufacturing and plans to launch a series of small satellites called Fireflies.

Q: What is special about the Fireflies satellites?
A: The Fireflies satellites offer hyper-spectral imagery with a five-meter resolution, which allows for highly detailed monitoring of the Earth.

Q: Where is Pixxel’s satellite manufacturing unit located?
A: Pixxel’s satellite manufacturing unit, Mega Pixxel, is established in Bengaluru, India.

Q: How many satellites does Pixxel plan to assemble, integrate, and test each year?
A: Pixxel plans to assemble, integrate, and test 40 satellites weighing 100 kilogrammes each per year.

Q: How quickly can Pixxel manufacture a satellite from assembly to launch?
A: Pixxel has a turnaround time of approximately six months from assembly to launch, enabling them to manufacture up to 40 satellites annually.

Q: How many Fireflies satellites will Pixxel initially deploy?
A: Pixxel aims to deploy six Fireflies satellites initially and an additional 12 in the following year.

Q: What is the resolution of the Fireflies satellites?
A: The Fireflies satellites can monitor over 250 spectral bands at a five-meter spatial resolution, which is the highest achievable for commercial hyper-spectral satellites.

Q: What are Pixxel’s long-term plans?
A: Pixxel plans to launch six heavier satellites called Honeybees in the next year, completing their constellation of 24 satellites. This constellation will have the ability to revisit any location on Earth within a 24-hour cycle.

Q: What is the purpose of Pixxel’s satellite manufacturing facility in Bengaluru?
A: The satellite manufacturing facility in Bengaluru is used for assembly and integration of the satellites. It spans over 30,000 square feet and includes state-of-the-art clean rooms to ensure maximum functionality.

Q: Who are some of Pixxel’s clients?
A: Pixxel’s growing clientele includes the Union Ministry of Agriculture, Rio Tinto, and the National Reconnaissance Organisation of the US, among others.

Q: What is the focus of Pixxel after the launch of Fireflies?
A: After the successful launch of Fireflies in June, Pixxel aims to focus on execution and plans to seek additional funding.

Q: What are some of the applications of Pixxel’s satellite data?
A: The data collected by Pixxel’s satellites will significantly contribute to monitoring emissions, water pollution, gas leaks, oil spills, soil composition, forest biodiversity, and crop health at an unprecedented level of detail and speed.

Q: What grant did Pixxel recently win?
A: Pixxel recently won the iDEX grant to construct a satellite bus for the Indian Air Force, highlighting their commitment to advancing the space industry.

Definitions:

– Hyper-spectral imagery: Capturing and analyzing images with hundreds of spectral bands, allowing for detailed analysis of objects’ composition and properties.
– Spatial resolution: The level of detail captured in an image, typically measured in meters per pixel.
– Spectral bands: Specific ranges of electromagnetic wavelengths used to gather information about the properties of objects.
– Constellation: A group of satellites working together to achieve specific objectives.
– Supply chain: The network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in producing and delivering a product or service.
– Assembly and integration: The process of combining various components to build a functional satellite.
– Clean rooms: Controlled environments with low levels of particulate contamination to ensure the reliability of sensitive equipment.

Suggested Related Links:

Pixxel
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Rio Tinto