Isotropic techniques are approaching the vary of antennas with a number of orbits

TAMPA, Fla. – British startup Isotropic Systems has unlocked more government funding for antennas it believes will be used for the multi-orbit development of the satellite industry.

Isotropic announced on May 25 that it had secured the final third of a previously unannounced € 18.5 million ($ 22.5 million) contract with the UK space agency to support the launch of its flat-panel terminals early next year .

The contract was originally awarded in June 2020 as part of the European Space Agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems program, said John Finney, CEO of Isotropic SpaceNews in an interview that led it to move more development work from the US to the UK

The UK government is Accelerate Investments in the industry to double its share of the global space market to 10% by 2030.

A portion of the LEO broadband operator OneWeb (Low Earth Orbit) was recently purchased, which could one day benefit from the multi-beam technology Isotropic is developing to track more than one satellite simultaneously with a single antenna.

French operator Eutelsat, known for its geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite fleet, bought 24% of OneWeb on April 27 to add a LEO layer to its broadband offering.

Satellites in LEO and medium earth orbit (MEO) are closer to antennas on Earth than those in GEO, reducing latency for video calls and other services.

While GEO antennas are fixed at one point in the sky, non-GEO terminals must serve satellites that are constantly moving in relation to the ground.

OneWeb expects that LEO will have enough satellites operating in the Ku-band spectrum to launch partial services later this year.

Isotropic’s flat panel displays will initially focus on serving satellites operating in the Ka-band spectrum. Finney pointed out that SES and Telesat – which have satellites in GEO – plan to go online with “massive amounts of next-generation Ka-band capacity” in MEO and LEO respectively over the next two years.

He said Isotropic’s antennas will enable multi-orbit operators to increase performance and reduce costs by combining their assets into a single integrated terminal without duplicating circuitry.

“Right now, the two dominant technology platforms – gimbals and phased arrays – can only connect to one satellite at a time and are prohibitively expensive,” said Finney.

Multi-orbit, multi-operator potential

Reusable launch vehicles and satellites built in days instead of years have refueled an investment gold rush in the space industry.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which helped transform a once government-dominated launch industry, now powers Starlink, the world’s largest commercial satellite internet constellation.

Despite the increasingly available spatial environment, the industry still operates on separate islands, according to Finney.

“If you are Elon Musk, think as long as I am building something bigger and better than the rest that I am winning,” he said.

“Well, he’s totally wrong … because when you’re locked in a system, that’s your Achilles heel.

“If you have the ability, as we would down here on earth, to roam solid ground, access the best features of many systems – as well as the fiber optic players and cellular networks we roam – you could these take advantage of the best features of each system. “

He added, “If you’re on Aero, you could have televised your best GEO in its class [direct-to-home] Provider, and on the same antenna you can move up [SES’ next-generation MEO network O3b] mPOWER or Inmarsat or another operator and get the best data in your class. “

Maturing Antennas Market

After investments in satellites, rockets and other parts of the space industry have long lagged behind investments, activity in the ground segment is increasing as mega-constellations just before commercial launch.

The US-based company Kymeta says its new Ku-focused U8 terminal is the only commercially available flat panel antenna that is compatible with LEO and GEO. formed a strategic partnership with the South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Systems (HSC) in December for a satellite constellation.

HSC that bought the British antenna manufacturer Phasor Solutions from bankruptcy In June 2020, 2,000 LEO satellites are to be deployed by 2030 to connect urban cargo delivery drones and passenger aircraft.

Kymeta said May 26 that the U.S. Foreign Investment Committee (CFIUS) approved HSC’s $ 30 million investment in the company – an important part of the December deal.

“We look forward to moving forward and working with HSC,” said Doug Hutcheson, executive chairman of Kymeta, in a statement.

“We believe this investment will help further innovate, develop and commercialize Kymeta’s connectivity solutions. We are excited about the future of Kymeta and the LEO satellite market. “

Isotropic raised $ 42 million in an SES-led funding round In February, the total investment amounts to around 70 million US dollars.

Finney put the total cash needed for its project at around $ 100 million and said it plans a funding round this year “to scale aggressively.”

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