Sky and Space Global has three GomSpace-built nanosatellites in orbit. The full constellation of around 200 satellites is scheduled for launch starting in 2018, with much of the launch service to be handled by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne air-launched vehicle, with whom Sky and Space Global has contracted for four dedicated missions. LauncherOne has announced its inaugural flight for 2018. Credit: Sky and Space Global

WHITEFISH, Montana — Startup nanosatellite telecommunications constellation operator Sky and Space Global on Aug. 24 said it had converted a letter of intent with an African communications company into a firm contract expected to generate between $10 million and $35 million in annual wholesale revenue for the customer.

The revenue potential assumes that Sky and Space Global (SSG), whose first three narrowband voce and messaging communications satellites were launched in June and are now in service, succeeds in launching about 200 similar equatorial-orbit spacecraft starting in 2018.

Sat-Space Africa, an IP-connectivity provider based in Mauritius with an operations center in Namibia, had already contracted to use all the capacity on the first three SSG Diamond satellites. It operates iDirect-provided hubs in Britain and South Africa that connect some 1,300 terminals in 27 African nations.

Sat-Space Africa already leases capacity on a half-dozen large geostationary-orbit satellites.

SSG, whose stock is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, told investors that Sat-Space Africa expected to generate $500,000 in annual revenue from the three satellites already in orbit, with revenue totals rising to up to $35 million per year once the 200-satellite constellation is operational starting in 2020.

SSG is a stem-to-stern New Space enterprise: It raised 10 million Australian dollars ($7.7 million) following a share placement in May. As of Aug. 24 it had a market capitalization of around 120 million Australian dollars.

Its satellites are built by GomSpace of Europe, itself a New Space startup that has knitted together a remarkable list of early customers:

With the first three satellites launched into low Earth orbit in June aboard India’s PSLV rocket and since declared fit for commercial service, SSG is now banking on an on-schedule debut for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne vehicle, scheduled to debut in 2018. SSG has booked four dedicated launches on LauncherOne, an air-launched vehicle deployed from beneath a converted Boeing 747 aircraft.

SSG has said its entire constellation — 200 satellites manufactured, launched and insured — will cost around $150 million.