SPACE

U.K. Firm Secures Funding for Multi-Orbit Satcom

3/30/2021
By Mandy Mayfield

Isotropic Systems photo

A startup company that builds satellite antennas announced in February that it received approximately $40 million in investments for its next-generation multi-orbit connectivity terminal.

Isotropic Systems, which is based in Reading, United Kingdom, received the influx of funding through an effort led by satellite operator SES, with contributions from Boeing HorizonX Global Ventures — a corporate venture arm of the Boeing Co., the U.K. Space Agency and Promus Ventures, a U.S.-based technology investment firm.

With the funding secured, Isotropic Systems plans to accelerate the development of its multi-beam antenna. The technology is capable of simultaneously linking with multiple satellites in different orbits. Systems that many defense agencies currently use provide them with a patchwork of networks that require numerous antennas that can’t keep up with the growing demand for connectivity, the company said in a statement.

There are four separate orbits that companies in the global space industry are launching satellites into, said Brian Billman, vice president of product management at Isotropic Systems.

“There’s going to be this explosion of capacity across all of those orbits, so now instead of having very few number of satellites to choose from at any given time from a single part of the Earth — and having those satellites very far away — you could potentially have hundreds of satellites within your field of view across various different orbits for that user terminal to select from, and all of those constellations are going to have a different” characteristic, Billman said.

Ideally, a user would want to be able to take their satellite communications traffic and route it to any satellite on any orbit, Billman said.

“That’s really what we’re unlocking with the multi-beam capability, because now all of a sudden you have a terminal that can create multiple links at the same time from a single terminal.”

On the heels of its successful fundraising wave, the company is in the midst of a number of key commercial and government trials.

Isotropic will be demonstrating its capability for a program under the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Army Research Engineering Team at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, this year.

It is also working with the Navy through the Defense Innovation Unit to test if the technology is applicable on the Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyer.

Isotropic Systems’ full commercial product will become available in mid-2022.

Topics: Battlefield Communications, Space

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