Countdown to Liftoff: Retracing the FOREST-2 Thermal Sensor Launch into Orbit

It’s a fact – our environment has become alarmingly volatile, with drought-stricken Spain, record-breaking sea surface temperature, and devastating wildfires in Canada proving the point. In such extreme situations, the need for a new game-changing technology to tackle climate change is obvious. 

To address current challenges, we at OroraTech have successfully deployed our next thermal sensor called FOREST-2 of a commercial orbit-based network. By continuously monitoring the Earth’s temperature, our customers, like fire-fighting agencies, forestry, and utility companies are provided with real-time detection capability, continuous situational awareness as well as predictive insights to maintain control of wildfires.

FOREST-2 took flight on June 12, 2023, aboard SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket. It was a truly special day for our team, and we are eager to share this exciting moment with you.

FOREST-2 Unveiled: The Story Behind Its Development

The success of the FOREST-1 sensor, launched in January 2022 and initially intended as a technology demonstration, surpassed all expectations and proved to be an outstanding temperature monitoring instrument for different industries like forestry, agriculture, energy, and insurance. Inspired by these results, our team has dedicated their work to building an even more impressive sensor with higher resolution, upgraded processing, and faster detection speed – FOREST-2. 

FOREST-2 payload, 360 view

This new generation payload represents the first commercial sensor in OroraTech’s groundbreaking space-based thermal sensor network, that is designed to monitor Earth’s temperature in real-time, delivering low-latency global data to billions of people worldwide. Through the Early Access program subscription, users get access to such benefits as ultra-fast bush-size fire detection and precise fire perimeter location. Within minutes, this crucial information becomes available on both mobile and desktop devices.

A Momentous Day: Launching FOREST-2 into Orbit

After months of collaborative assembly and rigorous testing behind us, the moment had finally arrived to send the payload to its destined journey in Earth’s orbit. The long-awaited launch date was finally confirmed—June 12, 2023. As our CTO Martin Langer said, ” The Launch Day is the best day of the year, even ahead of Christmas or my own birthday.” The anticipation had been building within our entire team as we awaited the day when FOREST-2 would take its journey into space and join its predecessor, FOREST-1. 

The plan was set: A 57-minute launch window opening at 23:19 CEST time; the booster, which had already completed eight successful flights; 72 payloads onboard, each one holding immense value and years of dedication from countless engineers, scientists, and innovators;  weather forecast indicating 95% cloud cover and a wind speed of 7mph. Perfect conditions for a liftoff!

As the Falcon-9 took off, our team watched with unwavering attention. Gathered at our headquarters in the Munich office, we eagerly awaited the deployment of FOREST-2. The moment when FOREST-2 successfully separated, the room erupted with uncontainable joy. Cheers, high-fives, and beaming smiles reflected the shared pride of a job well done. The atmosphere was full of excitement that left no doubt—we had accomplished something truly amazing together. 

OroraTech’s team reaction to the the moment of FOREST-2 separation,  June 12, 2023

The FOREST-2 deployment was supported by the long-term partner Spire Global, a CubeSats manufacturer with headquarters in San Francisco, USA. Together we will be working also on the next eight sensors. 


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Play Video about F2-Launch-announcement

OroraTech’s live stream of the FOREST-2 launch from June 12, 2023. Participants: CEO & Co-Founder Thomas Gruebler,  CCO Dr. Axel Roenneke,  Data Science Team Lead  Julia Gottfriedsen, Head of Payload Engineering Lucas Krempel.
Moderator: PR & Communications Lead Liene Lapsevska.

What’s Next for FOREST-2?

With FOREST-2 in orbit, we are taking yet another step towards establishing a network of sensors to monitor the planet’s surface temperature every 30 minutes. This advancement empowers us to deliver multiple daily observations from any spot on Earth, offering our customers invaluable thermal intelligence insights. The anticipation for the first images from FOREST-2 camera is building up! Stay tuned for more thrilling updates in the near future.

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