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August 7, 2023
On-Orbit GigRouters Enable Faster Data Throughput
Collaboration helped solve an operational problem while increasing value for customers and further paving the way for commercializing Earth Intelligence from VLEO.
The benefits—and challenges—of a lower orbit
EOI Space is building a satellite constellation that will utilize a lower orbit to provide premium, persistent Earth Intelligence to a range of government and commercial customers. The new orbit, Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO), brings fresh benefits like the ability to collect ultra-high-resolution imagery. However, being the first U.S.-based company to operate commercially in VLEO also comes with a host of unique challenges.
One obstacle the team faced was how to overcome the reduced satellite-to-ground data transmission window experienced in VLEO. Although EOI Space’s Stingray satellites will maintain a sun-synchronous orbit, traveling pole to pole approximately every 90 minutes, their speed relative to the surface of the Earth is faster than satellites orbiting higher above. This means the window of time each Stingray spends traveling over each ground receiving terminal is smaller, potentially limiting the volume of information that can be downlinked to Earth.
An innovative partnership
When researching solutions, EOI Space turned to Reston, Virginia-based Cambrian Works. Cambrian Works is a leading company specializing in Space networking and edge-computing hardware and software.
When looking at their GigRouter product, there were immediate synergies such as both EOI Space and Cambrian Works’ use of NVIDIA Jetson computers. Because the teams connected during development of GigRouter, it was possible to work together to test and iterate on the final product design.
“By closely collaborating, we were able to build a product that easily fit within EOI Space’s existing payload design,” said Simon Lee, COO of Cambrian Works, “This ultimately saves them time and money and assures an off-the-shelf solution for future Stingrays.”
A cutting-edge solution for edge computing
GigRouter is a space-hardened router designed to interconnect satellite subsystems with up to 10Gbps of ethernet throughput and its plug-and-play nature makes it simple to integrate directly into each satellite’s payload. GigRouter’s proximity to the Stingray’s Earth-imaging cameras further improves imagery data throughput speed.
When an image is taken, EOI Space’s powerful onboard compute cluster rapidly processes the image and uses AI to generate value-add analytics. The GigRouters then quickly organize and package the data and posture it for efficient downlinking as the satellite flies over the next ground station. The faster the router can complete this onboard throughput operation, the more data that can be fed to the downlink radio and ultimately delivered to customers.
Improving capacity and throughput
Image latency refers to the “downtime” image data experiences from the time it is collected on a satellite until it is received by the end user. Whether customers are monitoring shipping activity at major ports around the globe or assessing and responding to a natural disaster, minimizing image latency, and receiving it in as near-real time as possible is critical.
As highlighted above, the reduced time window to transfer data while passing over a ground station impacts latency. By immediately readying image data on the satellite to be efficiently downlinked during the reduced time windows, GigRouters improve latency—as well as the overall capacity of data that can ultimately be transmitted to the ground.
“Cambrian Works’ GigRouter provides EOI Space with an internal networking solution that achieves the transfer rates necessary to deliver a high volume of image data to our end customers,” remarked Joshua Cole, Director of Space Segment at EOI Space, “Our ability to innovate together directly enables us to meet customer requirements now and in the future.”
As EOI Space’s Stingray constellation grows, so will opportunities to implement new solutions and expand the partnership. One such opportunity is to further improve latency by leveraging the GigRouter for intra- and inter-constellation data relay. Instead of waiting until the satellite flies over a ground station to downlink imagery, it could potentially relay image data ahead to another satellite with available downlink capacity.
“We look forward to working with EOI Space on future satellite missions, and to continue supporting their plans to grow a resilient constellation of 60 ultra-high-resolution imaging satellites,” said Victor Aguero, CEO and CTO of Cambrian Works.
Click here to read the press release.
About Cambrian Works, Inc
Cambrian Works was founded in 2020 to develop and deploy foundational technologies and infrastructure for the emerging space economy. Cambrian Works is focused on interoperable software-defined networking for space and routers to deploy networking; a real-time, digital constellation twin capability supporting system development and operations; and leveraging space networks to support new space market sectors. Initial sectors being targeted include networked, high bandwidth, Earth-observing data relay, In-space Servicing Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM), and space debris mitigation. Cambrian Works’ products are a combination of leading-edge development and tailored adaptation of commercial off-the-shelf products for use in space. Deployments begin in 2024. Learn more at: https://cambrianworks.com
About EOI Space
Based in Louisville, Colorado, EOI Space is developing a constellation of unique satellites to deliver premium, persistent Earth Intelligence. By operating in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) and leveraging on-board computing technology, EOI Space will deliver 15-cm resolution imagery and decision-ready data within an hour from collection, expediting critical time-to-action and supporting commercial and government customers with emergency response, asset monitoring, situational awareness, and more. Learn more at: https://eoi.space/