StartupsTechnology

World’s First Constellation for Wildfire Monitoring

FOREST-1, the first satellite Spire launched for OroraTech. Image: Spire

Canada is experiencing its most severe wildfire season on record, with emissions from the fires at their highest levels since satellite monitoring began in 2003.

In a bid to help responders better control the spread of wildfires in the future, OroraTech, a startup founded in 2018 as a Technical University of Munich spin-off, aims to have the world’s first and largest satellite constellation dedicated to wildfire detection up and running by mid-2024. 

This timeline will be made possible by tapping into the existing infrastructure and suite of services offered by Spire Global. In a stellar case study for the company’s ‘space-as-a-service’ business model, Spire will build, launch, and operate an eight-satellite constellation for OroraTech—all for a flat monthly fee.

BYOP

Spire’s plug-and-play model means customers can bring their own payload, develop a custom one with Spire, or upload their software to one of Spire’s existing satellites. In this case, OroraTech’s thermal-infrared optical payload and data processing unit will be hosted on Spire’s 6U satellite buses. Data will be downlinked via Spire’s ground station network and delivered to OroraTech through an API.

Comparable to AWS in the cloud computing industry, Spire’s on-demand subscription platform lowers the barrier of entry for new space market entrants by enabling them to bypass the complexities of establishing a constellation and ground station network, and provides “an easy-to-use service that allows customers such as OroraTech to focus on their applications and end users,” said Frank Frulio, Spire’s GM of Space Services.

For OroraTech, those end users may include firefighters, forestry officials, and utility companies who can benefit from real-time detection capability, continuous situational awareness, and predictive insights to maintain control of wildfires.

With our powers combined

This isn’t the first time this dynamic duo has teamed up in the fight against wildfires:

  • Quebec’s fire agency currently relies on data from OroraTech’s fire monitoring instrument aboard a Spire satellite launched last year.
  • Last month, the two companies were awarded a contract to assist Canada’s space agency with its WildFireSat mission, a satellite for wildfire management. 
  • And a Spire satellite carrying two of OroraTech’s instruments for wildfire detection launched on SpaceX Transporter-8 earlier this month.

3-Minute Detection: OroraTech’s ultimate goal is to be able to alert customers within three minutes of detecting a fire event anywhere on Earth.

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