The UK Space Agency and European Space Agency are preparing to launch two supercomputing 'nanosatellites' into orbit later this month, to help track global shipping movements.
About the size of a shoebox, the satellites are backed by £6 million of funding from the British government and are part of a set of fourbuilt, tested and assembled by Spire Global in Glasgow.
The first set of two satellites will launch from a Russian Soyuz rocket on 24th September, while the second set will go up on an Indian PSLV rocket in the first week of November.
Spire Global says the nanosatellites use on-board computers and machine learning algorithms to predict shipping movements and estimate vessel arrival time in ports.
CEO Peter Platzer said that the firm's goal is to help organisations to make better decisions with use of advanced technology.
"This month we are moving this forward by launching a true supercomputer into orbit - 1-2 teraflops! - so that we can analyse data right in orbit, using smart algorithms and machine learning," he said.
Spire Global specialises in developing and deploying automatic identification systems aboard ships, enabling the ground staff to pick up the identity, location, and speed of various ships on the oceans.
"We see these parallel supercomputing scalable devices as being extremely important for the next phase of Earth observation. Just one of our small satellites can collect over a terabyte of data per day, which would be prohibitive to download. It has to be analysed in orbit, so that true insight can be delivered to customers directly and in a timely fashion," Platzer said last year after Spire launched supercomputing satellites via another Soyuz Rocket.
Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, praised the nanosatellites' capabilities:
"These four Spire satellites are aimed at making trade hyper-accurate, with technology that makes business more cost effective and efficient."
The nanosatellites have been developed as part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Pioneer programme - a joint project co-funded by the UK Space Agency.
While Britain is no longer a part of the EU's Galileo GPS project after Brexit, it is still a member of the ESA, which is separate from the political bloc.
UK Space Agency international director Alice Bunn said that the UK will continue to work with the ESA to access its technical facilities and expertise to advance country's satellite telecommunications programme and its space ambitions.
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