Astranis wins Space Force contract to integrate military satcom into commercial cargo

WASHINGTON – Astranis Space Technologies has won a $4.5 million contract to integrate a US military communications waveform into one of the company’s satellite communications payloads, the company announced Feb.

Under a two-year Small Business Innovation Research Phase 3 contract awarded by the US Space Force, Astranis will integrate the Protected Tactical Waveform into a commercial communications payload. The contract has options worth an additional $6 million for an in-orbit demonstration, Astranis CEO John Gedmark said. SpaceNews.

The waveform known as PTW is a specific type of networking software used by the military to transmit voice and data.

The US Air Force developed PTW a decade ago to increase the security of satellite-based communications. The waveform over the years has been integrated into military and commercial satellites.

Astranis, a San Francisco-based startup, makes small geostationary satellites aimed at users who want dedicated coverage in a specific region. The company has been looking for opportunities in the defense market as the military looks to take advantage of emerging commercial technologies.

Astranis’ small GEO satellites – ranging from 350 to 400 kilograms – can be repurposed relatively quickly from one region to another based on customer needs, Gedmark said.

He said the company won the Space Force contract just six weeks after the head of the US Space Systems Command, Lieutenant General Michael Guetlein, visited the Astranis factory in San Francisco and heard about potential military applications for satellites. of micro-GEO communications.

Gedmark said he hopes the PTW demonstration, if successful, will convince Space Systems Command to order “a sizable number of these satellites at GEO and those would be dedicated Space Force assets.”

Astranis sees this project “as a stepping stone to what could certainly be a sizable program in the future”, he added.

The company’s first satellite is set to launch in the coming weeks as a secondary payload alongside the Viasat-3 broadband satellite on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. The first satellite of Astranis, called Arcturus, go to supply internet services in alaska.

Astranis purchased a dedicated SpaceX Falcon 9 launch to deploy four more small GEO satellites sometime in the next year. Two are for onboard connectivity provider Anuvu, one for Peruvian telecom service Andesat and the fourth customer is yet to be announced.

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