Astranis is making waves in the broadcasting industry with their Series B funding netting an impressive $90 million. The company is looking to revolutionize the way satellite internet networks operate by moving away from the traditional geosynchronous satellite solutions. Astranis plans on delivering next-generation satellite broadband internet services in the next few years.
To date, Astranis has raised roughly $108 million. While that number may sound like a lot, it’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that Astranis’ competitors include SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper. SpaceX and Amazon have intimidatingly deep pockets and seem to have a similar interest in launching a next-generation satellite service.
What makes this news so interesting is the type of satellite network that Astranis plans on implementing. Traditionally, satellite companies deploy a web of numerous satellites that sit in a low orbit around the Earth. Those satellites don’t stay in a fixed point above the Earth, which means as they orbit they need to hand of their connection to whichever satellite takes their place over a specific location. This kind of relay system provides ample opportunity for things to go wrong.
Astranis plans on utilizing satellites that maintain a geosynchronous orbit above the earth. That means that the satellite stays over the same location on Earth and provides service to that geographical area. No handing off or trading of signals is required.
This methodology has been used in the past. In fact, DISH Network utilizes satellites in a geosynchronous orbit. However, companies like DISH have used massive satellites that can weigh up to 14,000 lbs to maintain these geosynchronous orbits. Not only are satellites that large expensive to build, but they are incredibly expensive to even get up into orbit. Astranis is taking a different approach.
What makes Astranis plan so unique is their proprietary ultra-sideband software defined radio tech. The name may be a mouthful, but what that technology allows is for Astranis to provide more bandwidth using less complicated hardware and much less space. As a result Astranis’ geostationary satellites will be significantly smaller than the larger legacy satellites that other companies have utilized in the past. How much smaller? Roughly 20 times smaller. Astranis’ satellites will weigh just under 800 lbs.
Not only will those smaller satellites cost less to make, but they can be built and launched with a turnaround time of months, instead of the years larger more traditional satellites require.
Astranis certainly has big plans, but they are not the only players in this space, nor are they the biggest. If their proprietary technology works like they claim, they could completely transform the satellite internet space in a very short amount of time.
Astranis currently has an agreement with SpaceX to launch their first commercial satellite. While the timetable for the launch is still murky, the company has said that they expect to get their satellite in space as early as Q4 2020.