SpaceX has signed a new agreement to use technology from LeoLabs to track Starlink satellites during the on-orbit phase of missions.
LeoLabs will provide SpaceX with rapid orbital location and identification support during the first few days of new Starlink missions.
“LeoLabs is excited to work with SpaceX as they launch the world’s largest constellation of satellites to provide global broadband internet access,” said LeoLabs CEO Dan Ceperley, in a statement. “Our global radar network and software platform allow LeoLabs to acquire an entire batch of Starlink satellites faster than any other organization in the world and provides SpaceX with a level of certainty that was previously not available.”
LeoLabs’ tracking systems will provide a backup to SpaceX for tracking Starlink satellites and to also help with any “mission critical scenarios” if they ever arise.
Phased-array radar systems from LeoLabs will track Starlink satellites starting from the first radar pass after deploying from the upper stage of the Falcon 9. LeoLabs will track all Starlink satellite launches with data being collected within the first few hours of deployment, providing orbital data to SpaceX.
LeoLabs says it will also help identify non-Starlink objects such as third-party satellites for ride share missions and detail location and separate info back to SpaceX.
“From the time the satellites pass over one of our radars to the time we deliver data to SpaceX is commonly less than one hour,” explains LeoLabs, which says it has supported all SpaceX Starlink launches since March 2020.
Yesterday, Starlink started sending out its first public beta invites for the low earth orbit internet service, while also debuted its app in Apple’s App Store and Google Play.