Loft Orbital buys Anywaves satellite tv for pc antennas
WASHINGTON – Loft Orbital is buying antennas for an upcoming mission from French company Anywaves, a deal the companies see as a sign of a growing European ecosystem of space startups.
Anywaves announced on March 16 that it had sold two S-band antennas to Loft Orbital, which will install them on their YAM-3 spacecraft, which launches on a SpaceX Falcon 9 ridesharing in June. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the companies described the arrangement as the beginning of a “long-term partnership”.
Antoine de Chassy, president and co-founder of Loft Orbital, said in an interview that his company chose Anywaves because it could deliver the antennas so quickly. Anywaves provided the antennas one week after the contract was signed. “They delivered cutting-edge technology in record time,” he said.
The S-band antenna is used by an unspecified customer of YAM-3 for an Internet of Things service, which represents the beginning of a constellation. “Since this is a constellation, we need to be able to scale very quickly,” he said. “It’s not just a one-off.”
Anywaves, which was spun off from the French space agency CNES in 2017, focuses on the manufacture of antennas for satellite constellations. “If you want to buy another antenna, you have to go to a traditional manufacturer, and it’s always 12 to 18 months and a huge amount of money: not compatible with this new market,” said Nicolas Capet, general manager of Anywaves.
Anywaves has focused on producing “very generic” antennas in the S and X bands that are suitable for a variety of missions, he said. Customers range from startups like Pixxel, an Indian company developing a constellation of imaging satellites, to Thales Alenia Space, which uses Anywaves antennas for satellites that it builds for Omnispace, a company that creates a constellation for Internet-of- Things and 5G services developed.
De Chassy opened a French office for San Francisco-based Loft Orbital in Toulouse a year ago to focus on clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “I was a little concerned about the slow pace of decision-making and sometimes the long cycles with customers,” he said.
He said he was relieved to find a group of innovative companies like Anywaves to work with in Toulouse. “I’ve found a vibrant small business community,” he said. “It’s close to what I find in San Francisco or Colorado.”