LeoLabs, a U.S.-based company that operates a global network of space radars, has launched a new tool for the space insurance market. The tool, which is currently in beta, allows underwriters to assess the orbital debris collision hazards in low Earth orbit (LEO), where most satellites operate.
The tool provides data on the probability and severity of potential collisions, as well as the historical and projected evolution of the space environment. The tool also enables underwriters to compare different orbits and satellite designs, and to monitor their portfolios in real time.
LeoLabs claims that its tool is the first of its kind in the industry, and that it can help reduce the uncertainty and risk associated with space insurance. The company says that its tool is based on its proprietary radar data, which covers more than 90% of all active satellites and debris larger than 10 centimeters in LEO.
LeoLabs wins contract to support Japan Air Self Defense Force
In addition to its commercial offerings, LeoLabs also provides space domain awareness (SDA) services to government agencies. In May 2023, the company announced that it had won a multimillion-dollar contract to support the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) with its SDA capabilities.
The contract, which was awarded through ITOCHU Aviation Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, gives Japan access to LeoLabs’ data and services platform, which includes tracking and monitoring, collision avoidance, and other features. LeoLabs will also provide training to JASDF operators on how to use its platform.
LeoLabs CEO Dan Ceperley said that the contract was a “huge step forward” for both Japan and LeoLabs, and that it reflected the growing importance and complexity of LEO. He said that LeoLabs was the sole end-to-end supplier of radar infrastructure and scalable services for LEO, and that it had the largest set of actionable insights in existence for tracking satellites and debris in LEO.
LeoLabs expands its global radar network
LeoLabs operates six radars in Alaska, Texas, New Zealand, and Costa Rica, which can track objects down to 10 centimeters in diameter in LEO. The company plans to add four more radars by the end of 2023, in Australia and the Azores, which will improve its coverage and resolution.
LeoLabs says that its radar network is the most advanced and comprehensive in the world, and that it can solve the “data deficit” problem for LEO. The company estimates that only 10% of the space junk that can harm a satellite is currently being tracked by commercial firms and governments, and that its network can fill the gap.
LeoLabs also says that its network can support the rapid growth of LEO activities, such as satellite constellations, space tourism, and space debris removal. The company says that its network can enable safe and sustainable operations in LEO, and that it can foster innovation and collaboration in the space industry.