This week Astranis announced it has started building four small geostationary communications satellites for new customers, with three of the new satellites already “spoken for” with signed customer deals. Astranis has committed to over $30 million in long-lead hardware orders with its suppliers to confirm delivery dates and accelerate timetables.
Astranis says the next four satellites – and maybe up to six, according to a tweet from Astranis CEO John Gedmark – include an upgraded communications payload that drives higher throughput along with bus improvements that extend satellite lifetime. This block of satellites should offer 15 percent greater lifetime and 20 percent greater throughput than its first satellite being built to service Alaska without increasing satellite hardware cost.
“We are innovating fast,” said Astranis CEO John Gedmark. “This next block of four satellites contains some significant upgrades, and we have much more where this came from.”
This next production block of Astranis satellites includes an upgraded payload that drives higher throughput and various bus improvements that extend satellite lifetime. In total, Astranis expects these satellites will offer 15% greater lifetime and 20% greater throughput than their first-generation model, without increasing satellite hardware cost.
Astranis’ first satellite is expected to begin service in early 2022, with a launch date sometime before the end of 2021. Three of the four satellites in the next Astranis production block are reserved by customers under recently inked deals that are still to be announced. “We are excited to announce additional details about the customers for these satellites in the coming weeks.” Gedmark said, “Stay tuned. Things are about to get really exciting.”
Unlike the current crop of LEO broadband constellations, Astranis is focusing on building small, low-cost telecommunications satellites to operate from geostationary orbit. Designed to weigh around 400 kilograms and use a software defined radio payload for frequency and coverage flexibility, Astranis will own and operate its own satellites, offering them to customers as a turnkey telecommunications service. The company says this “bandwidth-as-a-service” offering will unlock “previously unreachable markets” by providing small dedicated satellites for small and medium-sized countries, Fortune 500 companies, existing satellite operators, and other customers.