Foxconn has launched two satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Last week the company – formally known as Hon Hai Technology Group – announced a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Exolaunch.

foxconn exolaunch pearl satellite
– Foxconn | Exolaunch

The companies then launched two cubesats, codenamed Pearl-1H and Pearl-1C, aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 mission during the Transporter-9 mission over the weekend.

The two satellites were developed in partnership with National Central University (NCU). Foxconn first mentioned plans to allocate resources to research and development of LEO satellite technologies last year, but hasn’t provided many details.

According to Gunter’s Space Page, the two 8.8kg 6U cubeSats each operate Ku- and Ka-band communication payloads.

“This is a pilot run as proof of the concept for our efforts in LEO satellite broadband communications and next-gen, beyond 5G (B5G) capabilities. It is also a great example of collaboration between academia and industry. Exolaunch plays a crucial role in getting our mission to space,” said Dr. Jen-Ming Wu, director of the Next-generation Communications Research Center at Hon Hai Research Institute.

Jesse Chao, Sr. director, B5G policy and corporate policy at Foxconn, added: “In the B5G and new space era, the launch of LEO satellites will become ever more cost-competitive and convenient. Foxconn’s first Pearl is meant to show we will be ready to meet the increase in demand for key components, sub-system, and assembly integration test, driving higher circulation and innovation in the new space industry."

Exolaunch will provide mission management, deployment hardware, and services for Foxconn’s inaugural set of satellites.

The transporter-9 mission, launched from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base on Saturday, November 11. SpaceX said 90 payloads were expected to deploy from the Falcon 9 rocket across 89 deployments; 86 deployments have been confirmed to-date.

In other satellite news:

- Qualcomm and Iridium are scrapping a partnership to offer Android smartphones direct-to-cell connectivity capabilities. Despite a successful trial, Iridium said last week that no smartphone makers have included Qualcomm’s technology in their devices, and so the deal between the two companies will terminate next month.

Going forward, Iridium said it “will be free to directly re-engage” with smartphone OEMs, other chipmakers, and smartphone operating system developers.

- SES has launched two more O3b mPower satellites – the fifth and sixth for the constellation – into orbit. The mPower network is due to launch globally in Q2 2024.

- The US DoD has signed a five-year $270 million deal with SES for O3b satellite services.

- GEO operator Avanti is planning to lease capacity from a LEO operator as part of a new ‘multi-orbit’ strategy. The company, which currently operates five Ka-band GEO satellites, said it is in talks with an unnamed “leading LEO operator” to procure capacity and will be “investing heavily” in its managed services capabilities.

– The German armed forces are planning to develop its own medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellation consisting of up to 24 satellites, according to Janes. The Bundeswehr currently operates two GEO communications satellites – COMSATBw-1 and COMSATBw-2 – which are due to reach their operational end-of-life in 2028. They are set to be replaced with COMSATw 1B and 2B in 2028/2029 and the Bundeswehr aims to also integrate with the planned EU IRIS² constellation.

- Starlink has reportedly been awarded a $100 million contract to provide satellite connectivity to rural areas in Mexico.

- Aero, a book-by-the-seat jet service, has incorporated SpaceX’s Starlink Internet service onto its ERJ-135 jets.

- Battery provider Amprius said it has secured orders from three Premier electric aviation companies for custom 450Wh/kg battery cells, which are designed to power high-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS).