connectivity

SpaceX adds satellite company Swarm Technologies to its portfolio

The acquisition complements its Starlink broadband satellite constellation
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Swarm Technologies

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SpaceX has added a new star to its constellation. The Elon Musk-led space company acquired satellite data provider Swarm Technologies, per an August 6 FCC filing. The merger, which the companies agreed to in July, will make Swarm and its...swarm...of 120 satellites a subsidiary of SpaceX.

  • The filing states the acquisition will strengthen “the combined companies’ ability to provide innovative satellite services that reach unserved and underserved parts of the world.”

Swarm’s CubeSat satellites, which the company says are about the size of a grilled cheese sandwich, transfer small amounts of data to IoT devices. They mostly fulfill low-bandwitdth needs for agriculture, maritime, energy, environmental, and transportation companies. They might help an organization monitor water levels or track buoys, for example.

  • As Swarm CEO and cofounder Sara Spangelo told us, one day before the FCC filing, the company is "moving small amounts of really useful data from anyone on the planet, with really tiny devices.”
  • She said the company moves data at one-to-three kilobytes per second (for context, the average internet download speed is way faster, at 12-25 megabytes per second.)

In contrast, SpaceX’s satellite efforts center around Starlink, a broadband provider that has nearly 70,000 users but is burning through cash at a rocket-like pace.

The upshot...in Spangelo's words: “We're not actually a direct competitor with Starlink.”—JM

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