‘The Model T Ford of satellites’: Meir Moalem, Sky and Space Global

Stephen Kuper

Australian-listed Sky and Space Global is preparing to deliver leading-edge, nano-satellite based connectivity to equatorial Africa with the company’s next-generation Pearl nano-satellite constellation. 

The 200 nano-satellites in the Pearl constellation will be launched between mid-2019 and late 2020 in a staggered deployment that reduces risk, allows learnings between launches, and more efficient use of capital and management of cash flow.

The Pearl constellation builds on the experience gained throughout the development and successful launch and testing process of the Three Diamonds constellation as part of SAS Global’s partnership with the Indian Space Research Organisation in 2017-18. 

Three Diamonds gained formal approval from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, confirming the “bringing into use” (BIU) classification – a critical regulatory classification that confirms the existence of the satellite in space as well as validating the network’s capabilities to send and receive signals from a space station.

SAS Global CEO and managing director Meir Moalem told Space Connect, “The Pearl constellation will provide communications and connectivity in the narrow band width that is targeted toward things like mobile phone calls, text messaging, machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things (IoT). Narrow band width is a more cost-effective way of providing connectivity to remote parts of the world.”


Working in collaboration with Virgin Orbital, SAS Global’s first launch projected for later this year will deliver the first payload of 16 nano-satellites currently being manufactured by GomSpace in Europe, with two satellites currently being produced a week, with the aim for a satellite a day in the coming months. 

“The Pearl nano-satellites really are like the Model T Ford of satellites. The units themselves are approximately 10 kilograms and about the size of a small shoe box, highlighting the capability of the nano-satellite platform to provide low-cost, reliable and leading-edge communications and connectivity capabilities,” Moalem said. 


Assessed all technical components, including schedule, overall design, altitude control performance and system budgets (mass, power and link). To accommodate the needs of SAS, GomSpace is establishing a separate production line so that a new batch of 25 satellites will be ready for launch every two to three months.

The new production line will operate according to the serial production established by the automotive industry and signals a significant advancement in satellite manufacturing; GomSpace has conducted 50 satellite missions and delivered the first nano-satellites to the European Space Agency, with SAS Global’s first launch on track for mid-2019. 

“Nano-satellites are the most cost-effective and reliable way of connecting people, and SAS Global will remain at the leading edge of the nano-satellite revolution, driving innovation and outcomes for our customers,” Moalem explained. 



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