Pico Pioneer: Building Tiny Satellites for the Internet of Things

Pico Pioneer: Building Tiny Satellites for the Internet of Things

Ever since I was around 12, I’ve had an interest in technology and have looked for opportunities to work with hardware. I developed this interest both inside and outside of school.

I became fascinated with the Internet of Things: the devices, machines, and objects that exchange data over the Internet and other communication networks. Later, I developed an interest in using satellites to increase connectivity where there are no mobile networks. I thought if a way could be found to build and launch satellites cheaply, then communications could be made more affordable. When I was 15, I posted on the Reddit online forum expressing my interest in pursuing this interest.

Through Reddit, I met like-minded people, and in 2018 a group of us formed a nonprofit and started making satellites. We launched our first picosatellite into orbit, Fossa Sat 1, in December 2019. Weighing just 250 grams, it was essentially a mobile phone tower for space. After that, we became a trading company — Fossa Systems in Madrid. So far, our customers belong to sectors such as agriculture and include logistics companies that transport goods across oceans. These are areas where asset data, such as the GPS location of a cow or the temperature of a shipping container, must be exchanged reliably, so businesses can monitor their productivity in places distant.

I am now 19 and our first 13 commercial satellites were launched this year. Our goal is to have 80 small satellites launched by 2024. We sell them to companies for around US$100,000, which is an order of magnitude cheaper than market prices. Because our satellites are deployed in very low Earth orbits, they fall back into the atmosphere every 2-3 years, rather than remaining in orbit and generating space junk.

In this image, I am testing a satellite solar panel. Our goal over the next five years is to make space connectivity accessible to everyone.

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