“My entire vision is to make space more accessible, and so the way we’re doing that is through software. We’re trying to bring more developers into the industry specifically. We want to get more engineering talent into aerospace because the aerospace industry has such trouble finding it; by writing a platform catering to those developers, it makes it much simpler.” –Marshall Culpepper, Kubos
Today Marshall Culpepper, CEO and cofounder of Kubos Corp., the first open-source satellite software company, announced via a press release on Medium that $375k had been raised to develop open-source software for the space and satellite industry. Stressing that the satellite industry is changing, Culpepper said in an interview with Launch DFW today that software is going to play a bigger role in the industry, and Kubos is leading the field.
Culpepper and his team are shaking up the industry by believing that it should be accessible to anyone and working to make that a reality, saying, “We’re really excited about the opportunity to get more startup activity and get more entrepreneurs into the space industry.” Having worked at Spire, Culpepper recognized that space is not as unobtainable as people think. Thanks to his experience, the team at Kubos has the aerospace and the software experience that many other startups are currently lacking.
Through KubOS, the many problems of software and space can be resolved. Outside of the typical benefits of open-source software, KubOS is making it easier to cut through the barriers many satellite developers face, such as government regulations and payload and launch costs. With the $375K raised, KubOS will be able to continue where other startups have failed — developing software that is useful to the entire field.
Software is often overlooked by emerging satellite companies that think it is easier and cheaper to design their own. Software for a single satellite can run upwards of $15,000, making it cost prohibitive for new companies to purchase, and little shared knowledge regarding source code exists. And with similar startups “reinventing the wheel, every single one of them is writing their own software; they don’t really know how to do it because they have an aerospace background, they don’t really understand what software is,” according to Culpepper. And then they run into a lot of common problems during the development and use of that software.
Culpepper and his team recognized the issue was with the flight software and that it was something they as a team could tackle through an open-source platform. One of the problems addressed by Culpepper is that software is seen as easy, so companies design their own — often in the weeks and months before a launch, not giving their developers enough time to create a better product. There are many issues with integration because protocols and communication layers are different from vendor to vendor and compatibility must be dealt with for the ground stations and satellite subsystems to successfully communicate.
The unique difficulties associated with working in the aerospace field and the fact that nano-satellite failures in orbit can often be pinned to the poorly written software used to run them, presents challenges. This is where Kubos comes in. First, it created OpenKosmos, the open-source community to develop an end-to-end stack for satellite companies. Then there is KubOS RT, the real-time flight software platform that the new round of funding is meant to grow and develop.
When asked what he wanted to share about Kubos, Culpepper stressed the value and uniqueness of what they are trying to do and their role in making space more accessible than ever. Looking at the problem of satellite software differently, the team at Kubos is finding solutions using a “holistic software company perspective.” Comparing Kubos to other software companies in the industry, it is one of the few solving the problems of software while others focus on hardware and data. Kubos is the first software infrastructure company in its industry.
Giving a shoutout to Denton and the entire Dallas startup community, Culpepper was excited to speak about all that the community had given Kubos. Culpepper also mentioned that Kubos is actively hiring from within the Dallas/Fort Worth region, and he is actively working to recruit employees from Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments. He is excited about the opportunities expansion offers.
Blog post by: Harmony Tapper