Radio Frequency Detecting Satellite Fleet Expanding
Hawkeye 360 illustration
HONOLULU — Hawkeye 360, which provides radio frequency detection from space, will be launching an additional nine satellites this year to expand its services.
Brandon Lickey, product marketing manager at the Herndon, Virginia-based company, said there will be three launches with clusters of three satellites each, with the first scheduled in early April.
Radio frequency energy has been called the lifeblood of modern industry, but is invisible to the naked eye, company literature noted.
Hawkeye 360’s main customers are the defense and intelligence communities, which have found value in the company’s ability to spot the energy produced by everything from radars to push-to-talk radios, he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Pacific Operational Science and Technology conference in Honolulu.
The company takes data and overlays it on maps for its customers. The company’s satellite constellation can revisit a site about every hour, he said.
One of its main applications so far is the detection of so-called “dark vessels,” which have not turned on their Automatic Identification System beacons.
“We can still detect them,” he said. The energy signature from their maritime radars gives them away.
The company recently helped root out illegal gold miners in Nigeria who were using radios to communicate, but under thick jungle canopy.
“Push-to-talk radios were being used in heavily forested areas. Using imagery, you wouldn't be able to see anything going on, but since we can see through the coverage of forested areas, we can kind of tell you that something's happening,” he said.
Currently, the company is sharing data with Ukraine to detect GPS interference. The problem is not always manmade jammers — as many things can interfere with GPS signals — but in Ukraine, that is likely the case, he noted.
The plan is for a total constellation of 60 satellites, Lickey said.
But that rate will only improve as more spacecraft are launched. It also owns six ground stations, with the latest established in Maui, Hawaii.