Volume V, No. I January 2020
Table of Contents
Industry Trends and Analysis: (pg. 3)
Patee Sarasin, former CEO of Nok Air:
"Unlocking the Riches of In-flight Wi-Fi" (pg. 4)
David Bruner, former V.P. Panasonic Avionics:
"Buckle Up! :Turbulence Ahead in Airline Connectivity Markets"
"The Promise of the New Iridium and Aireon Services: Big Advancements in Air Traffic Management on the Horizon" (pg. 26)
Ernst Peter Hovinga, CEO Hiber: "Disrupting the Satellite IoT Connectivity Market: The Promise of Hiber" (p.31)
"Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events"
Highlighting Disruptive, New, Mobility-Focused Satellite Ventures and Technologies
In This Issue....
"It's Time to Tame the "Wild West" of Space"
FEATURE: "At SmartSky, Software-Defined Networks Take Flight" with President, Ryan Stone
"Skydweller Aero: A High-Altitude Platform that Works"
"Capella Space: High-Res Synthetic Aperture in a SmallSat"
"EVERYWHERE Communications: A Unified Communications Platform with Global Reach"
Satellite mobility World
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Table of Contents...
"Hot News and Commentary" (pg.3)
"SmallSat News and Ventures" (pg.4)
Editorial : "It's Time to Tame the "Wild West" of Space" (pg. 5)
Feature: "At SmartSky, Software-Defined Networks Take Flight" with President, Ryan Stone (pg. 9)
"Skydweller Aero: A High-Altitude Platform that Works" (pg. 21)
"Capella Space: High- Res Synthetic Aperture Radar in a SmallSat" with CEO Payam Banazadeh (pg. 30)
"EVERWHERE Communications: A Unified Communications Platform with Global Reach" with CEO Patrick Shay (pg. 42)
Recommended Upcoming Industry Events
Welcome to the January 2020 issue of Satellite Mobility World and the first edition of our fifth year.
This month, in an interview with SmartSky president, Ryan Stone, we're featuring SmartSky's new, software-defined inflight network. Offering easy upgradability, it may be the best defense yet against IFC obsolescence. The SmartSky network goes online in the second quarter of this year.
Continuing our focus on young, entrepreneurial companies, we scored an interview with Capella Space's CEO, Payam Banazadeh. With over $80 million raised, the company is disrupting the market for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging. Another very innovative company we're covering this month is Skydweller Aero.
Launched by several ex-Northrup Grumann engineers with expertise in unmanned aircraft, Skydweller Aero purchased the Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered aircraft to fly around the world and is converting into a drone. The company intends to deploy it for use by military surveillance and as a high-altitude communications platform (HAP). It's unique ability to remain aloft for days or even weeks at mid-level altitudes without refueling suggest unique utility in both markets.
Next, we look at EVERWHERE Communications, a unified communications company that Leverages the Iridium Network to facilitate global communication regardless of the network deployed. Finally, don't miss our editorial, "Taming the "Wild West" of Space," as we look at the dangers inherent in unregulated LEO orbits.
Satellite Mobility World is published by Gottlieb International Group, Inc.
1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington, VA 22204 USA
© Copyright 2020
1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington VA USA 22204
Published by Gottlieb International Group, Inc.
Arlington, VA USA
Gottlieb's Satellite and Mobility World is published monthly (except August) by Gottlieb International Group., Inc. Suite 100, 1209 South Frederick Street, Arlington, VA USA 22204 © Copyright 2019
SATELLITE MOBILITY WORLD
Gilat’s ESA Terminal Demonstrates First-ever In-Flight Operation on Commercial Aircraft
Outstanding accomplishment well positions Gilat to win the vast opportunities in the ESA market
Industry milestone achieved by linking Gilat’s ESA terminal onboard Honeywell’s commercial test aircraft to Ka-band capacity on Telesat’s T19V satellite
Petah Tikva, Israel, December 17, 2019 — Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ, TASE: GILT), a worldwide leader in satellite networking technology, solutions and services, announced today that Gilat’s In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) Electronically Steered Antenna (ESA) is the first-ever to operate during flight on a commercial aircraft, thus well positioning Gilat to win the vast opportunities in the fast changing market of ESA. The industry milestone was achieved onboard Honeywell’s Boeing 757 test aircraft with Gilat’s ESA terminal operating over Ka-band capacity on Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE High Throughput Satellite (HTS).
Gilat’s high throughput antenna demonstrated remarkable scores with complete gate-to-gate operation. Gilat’s ESA has no moving parts, full electronic beam steering and a flat panel with an extremely low profile. Gilat’s innovative design combines the benefits of ESA with the advantages of Ka-band, as highlighted by the performance achieved in this testing. The ESA terminal can serve both GEO and NGSO constellations that operate in Ka-band and features Gilat’s industry leading aero modem.
“Honeywell sees the electronically steered antenna as a key future technology, and this test is an important milestone showcasing its potential,” said Kevin Calcagni, Chief Technology Officer at Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Aerospace. “We have been investing in this technology for several years, and in parallel look to industry partners to innovate with us. We are pleased to successfully collaborate with Gilat in this pilot that again demonstrates Honeywell’s leadership position in the connectivity market.”
“Telesat is pleased to join forces with our longtime partner, Gilat, in achieving an additional remarkable milestone, this time using Gilat’s ESA antenna over Ka-band capacity on Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE GEO HTS,” said Michel Forest, Director of Systems Engineering for the LEO Program at Telesat. “Gilat’s ESA innovations demonstrate the ability to access and unleash the throughput and performance of Ka-band HTS beams with a low-profile antenna as desired by airlines.”
“The accomplishment of the successful in-flight demonstration of Gilat’s IFC ESA terminal onboard Honeywell’s commercial jetliner using Ka-band capacity on Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE HTS demonstrates Gilat’s innovation and progress for next-generation IFC ESA technology, and our ability to overcome massive technological challenges,” said Liran Wiener, Director of SatCom On-the-Move Programs at Gilat. “This exciting solution meets the communication needs of the aero market including both commercial and smaller jets that until now could not be served efficiently by existing solutions and opens up great opportunity for Gilat both over GEO satellites and Non-GEO constellations.”
KVH and Kongsberg Digital Successfully Install First Integrated Maritime IoT System on Active Working Vessel
MIDDLETOWN, R.I., Jan. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- KVH Industries, Inc. and Kongsberg Digital announce the successful installation of their first joint maritime IoT system on an active working vessel. The team installed a KVH Watch VSAT antenna for IoT connectivity and the Kognifai Vessel Insight platform on Simrad Echo, a Norwegian research vessel owned and operated by Kongsberg, which will continue normal operations during the pilot maritime IoT project. Together, KVH Watch and Kognifai Vessel Insight provide an integrated infrastructure for IoT connectivity and vessel-to-shore data.
Maritime IoT is a focus of great interest among ship owners, ship managers, and maritime equipment manufacturers who are seeking ways to improve vessel operations through real-time monitoring and data analysis. This bundled connectivity solution by two leaders in the commercial maritime market, KVH and Kongsberg Digital, is one of the first cases of an active working vessel using an integrated maritime IoT solution.
Simrad Echo will rely on Kognifai Vessel Insight to monitor main and auxiliary systems on the vessel and help ensure 100% availability. For example, the Kongsberg Mapping Cloud application will move high-resolution echo sounding data from vessel to shore in real time so that shore-based experts can provide analysis to optimize vessel operations.
“While Vessel Insight works as an infrastructure for accessing contextualized quality data from a vessel or fleet, KVH is providing an alternative for IoT connectivity that enables the transfer of data from ship to cloud,” says Vigleik Takle, Kongsberg Digital’s senior vice president of maritime digital solutions. “We are very happy to be able to offer this as a connectivity option to our users.”
The data flow from Simrad Echo will be facilitated by KVH Watch IoT Connectivity as a Service, a VSAT solution that leverages KVH’s end-to-end maritime connectivity services and high throughput satellite (HTS) network. KVH Watch features two modes: Watch Flow, for 24/7, machine-to-machine data delivery compatible with major IoT ecosystems such as Kognifai; and Watch Intervention, for on-demand high-speed sessions for face-to-face support, remote equipment access, and very large data transfers. The two companies plan to utilize Simrad Echo as a platform to develop tighter integrations for remote support and smart bandwidth utilization that will benefit both new and existing customers.
“Vessels are complex systems of systems that must work together for the vessel to perform reliably and efficiently,” says Robert Hopkins, Jr., KVH’s senior director of maritime services. “During the Simrad Echo pilot, Watch Flow will deliver a complete view of those systems to shore on a Kognifai Vessel Insight dashboard. One system, Kongsberg Mapping Cloud for very high-resolution bathymetry, is particularly data intensive, making it a great use case for our high-throughput Watch antenna.”
KVH and Kongsberg Digital will use the Simrad Echo pilot program to continue to enhance their maritime IoT solution, which is designed to enable remote equipment monitoring and performance optimization for vessels ranging from small research vessels to tankers, bulk carriers, and containerships.
Intellian Introduces World's first 1.5-meter Global Xpress Terminal
4 December 2019 – Intellian, the global leader of mobile satellite communication antenna systems, is unveiling the world’s first 1.5 m Global Xpress terminal, GX150NX at the International Workboat Show in New Orleans this week (Booth #3453) ahead of its commercial launch in 2020.
As the largest terminal, which will be available for the Inmarsat Fleet Xpress service following type approval and successful sea trials in 2020, the GX150NX will unlock the full power of the Global Xpress network for users with high bandwidth demands seeking the most resilient platform for digital and cloud-based operations.
The Intellian GX150NX will offer high-speed data and leading performance throughout the Global Xpress Ka-band footprint, strengthened further with exceptionally efficient RF design that delivers unrivalled link performance on the Fleet Xpress service.
In line with the future-proof ethos of Intellian’s entire NX Series antennas, the GX150NX features an optimized reflector and radome and is ready for operation on forthcoming 2.5 GHz Wideband Ka networks as well as GX5 satellites. Cruise and passenger ships, research and larger offshore vessels and structures will also experience more performance with a 10 W BUC.
Based on Intellian’s new NX technology platform, the GX150NX uses a single coaxial cable, which combines Tx, Rx, and DC power, to simplify installation. It introduces a new “All-in-One” GX Below Deck Terminal (BDT) which integrates an antenna control unit (ACU), a modem, a power supply, a 4-port switch, and a mediator in a single unit to further reduce the time and cost of installation in Intellian’s Fleet Xpress Rack.
The integrated mediator is especially relevant for offshore support vessels, as it streamlines and reduces the cost of dual antenna installations often needed to avoid satellite blocking when working close to other vessels or infrastructure.
The GX150NX also includes the new AptusNX antenna management and control platform. Common to all NX Series antennas, AptusNX includes an installation wizard with a step-by-step commissioning guide for easier setup and enhanced diagnostic capabilities, including alerts for operators when predictive maintenance is required.
Eric Sung, CEO of Intellian, added, “The GX150NX will be our flagship antenna for the Global Xpress network, and will be the largest available in the world today. This makes it an ideal solution for users in the offshore energy sector or passenger market; where reliable, high quality connectivity is in demand as a way to achieve sustainability in business, as well as for the environment.”
The terminal will enter the Inmarsat Type approval process in the next few weeks with forthcoming sea trials in planning and with a commercial entry date scheduled for early 2020.
Iridium Continues GMDSS Readiness with Announcement of Launch Partners
MCLEAN, Va., Dec. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) today announced the first seven companies it has authorized to provide its Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services, planned for commercial introduction in the first half of 2020. The seven companies, Arion Communications, AST, Marlink, Marsat, NSSLGlobal, Satcom Global and Speedcast will be the first in the industry to provide truly global satellite GMDSS service to mariners, and the first to offer a new choice in satellite network and equipment. Iridium® GMDSS will be the first to feature all three GMDSS services - safety voice, distress alerting and maritime safety information messaging, as well as being able to utilize Iridium's global voice and data services – all in one cost-effective and compact terminal.
These new GMDSS service providers will play a critical role in delivering and supporting Iridium GMDSS capabilities on ships, including for fleets interested in transitioning to the truly global Iridium network. Selection as an Iridium GMDSS service provider is based on meeting a number of requirements including having 24/7 customer support, a strong global or regional footprint, a robust portfolio of maritime value-added services and an excellent track record with maritime safety and security-related services. Additional companies are expected to become Iridium GMDSS service providers in the near future.
"The maritime industry is continuing its digital transformation, and Iridium is becoming the network of choice for mariners, especially when considering the excitement for our upcoming GMDSS service introduction targeted for 2020 and the increasing popularity of the Iridium Certus® broadband service," said Wouter Deknopper, vice president of maritime, Iridium. "Iridium already has a strong track record of providing non-SOLAS safety and security services along with our partners. These themes of safety and safety of life services are a constant throughout Iridium and all the markets we serve, making our GMDSS recognition a natural continuation of Iridium's ongoing desire to enhance and innovate in safety at sea for mariners."
GMDSS is a safety-of-life system created by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) designed to rescue mariners in distress while at sea. Its satellite communications capabilities are regulated by the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO). The system is partially comprised of satellite networks that feed distress information to rescue coordination centers around the world and enable the dissemination of navigational and meteorological information to vessels on the world's waterways, facilitating safer marine travel. Iridium received recognition to provide GMDSS from the IMO in 2018 and signed a public services agreement with IMSO to act as regulator of the service in 2019.
Diamond Offshore Drilling Selects ITC Global For Multi-Ywar RIG Communications Contract
Houston, Texas, December 4, 2019 – ITC Global, a leading provider of satellite communications to remote and harsh environments, announced today that it has been selected by Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. to deliver connectivity for corporate network, advanced client services and crew welfare applications on 10 rigs across its globally dispersed fleet of offshore drilling rigs. Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. is a leading player in the oil and gas industry, providing contract drilling services to the energy industry around the globe.
The agreement will include services for rigs operating in locations across the globe. ITC Global will complete installation of new stabilized antenna systems onboard each rig to deliver high-speed data services. The custom connectivity solution includes very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology, along with long-term evolution (LTE) capabilities, allowing seamless transition between technologies as needed. This will enable the fleet to manage essential business communications across its corporate network, advanced client services and applications to enhance remote operability as Diamond seeks to maximize efficiencies across its global operations. Initial installations are currently underway and are expected to be completed by 2020.
Nautilus Labs Becomes New Inmarsat Fleet Data Application Provider
New York, New York - DECEMBER 10) Nautilus Labs, the technology firm advancing the efficiency of ocean commerce through artificial intelligence, and Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, have signed an agreement for Nautilus Labs to join a premier group of dedicated application providers for Inmarsat’s Fleet Data service.
Nautilus Labs will use the Fleet Data API (Application Programming Interface) to help automate data collection as part of Nautilus Platform, a proprietary, fleet optimization UI (user interface) that provides shipping owners and operators with predictive analytics to reduce fuel consumption, allow for better decisioning, and meet international and local environmental standards—all in real time.
Matt Heider, CEO of Nautilus Labs, noted, “It’s critical that vessel owners and operators have simple, easy, and consistent access to actionable information. We’re proud to partner with Inmarsat, a satcom titan that has built their maritime book of business on best-in-class voice and data solutions. Together, we’ll help connect more clients with continuous, cost-saving fleet optimization insights on Nautilus Platform—for the teams at sea and on shore.”
Developed by Inmarsat and made commercially available earlier this year, Fleet Data collects signals from onboard sensors, pre-processes that data, and uploads it to a central cloud-based database—equipped with a dashboard and an API.
“We are delighted to be working with such an innovative startup such as Nautilus Labs, a company we covered in our recent Trade 2.0 report on the rise of maritime startups,” said Marco Cristoforo Camporeale, Head of Digital Solutions, Inmarsat Maritime.
“This tie-up will allow ship operators and fleet managers to optimize their entire fuel process and reduce unnecessary costs and meet decarbonisation targets, this is all achieved through the Nautilus Labs application on Fleet Data and via a secure platform that is fully scalable, fleet-wide and now commercially available on both Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband,” says Mr Camporeale.
RigNet Expands its Adaptive Video Intelligence Suite Now Called AVI LIVE
HOUSTON, Dec. 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- RigNet, Inc. (NASDAQ: RNET), the leading provider of ultra-secure, intelligent networking solutions, today launched a major expansion of its Adaptive Video Intelligence (AVI) suite called AVI LIVE. The market’s leading product for bandwidth-optimized secure video streams, now has a complete content management system and trigger- based workflows to significantly reduce requirements for “eyes-on-glass” monitoring. The completely redesigned user interface improves the viewing experience while accessing multiple video streams across devices and improves remote camera access control features in shared-customer environments. No other system provides more enterprise flexibility to control, stream, and record video with motion analytics from any type of camera or video codec.
“AVI LIVE offers an expanded video intelligence system that maximizes our customers’ investment in their remote video systems while providing secure cloud-based storage and real-time access,” said Edward Traupman, RigNet’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Products and Services. “This state-of-the-art video intelligence suite leverages RigNet’s exclusive video compression technology, reducing bandwidth requirements by more than 80% and providing military-grade encryption to ensure the highest level of data protection.”
AVI LIVE remains agnostic to a location’s existing video technologies, such as CCTV, analog, IP, thermal, drones, wearables, ROVs, diver units and other camera systems. With RigNet’s exclusive video compression technology, streams are delivered over any IP network and can achieve more than 80% bandwidth savings compared to other available video compression standards, such as H.264 and MPEG-4. Facilities and remote operation centers will now benefit from cost-efficient, high-quality video streams with ultra-low bandwidth usage by migrating from on-premise storage to cloud-based storage.
Hot News and Commentary
Smallsat News and Ventures
Kepler Communications Selects SpaceX to Launch Two Batches of its Nanosatellite Constellation
DECEMBER 12, 2019 – TORONTO - Kepler announced today that it has selected SpaceX as launch partner to deliver a portion of its first Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation into space onboard SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Kepler has procured 400 kg of launch capacity from SpaceX for the deployment of multiple satellites. These spacecraft incorporate both a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a narrowband payload, for both high-speed data transfers and for low-power direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity.
This will be the first time the two companies are partnering for a LEO deployment, and it will be a historical event as it marks Kepler’s first use of SpaceX’s new SmallSat Rideshare Program, which will see the launch of multiple small spacecraft into sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
“Kepler looks forward to working with SpaceX to fulfill part of our 2020 launch plans. With this agreement, we are deploying our next-generation constellation on schedule, which will let us serve the growing demand,” said Mina Mitry, CEO of Kepler Communications. “We chose SpaceX as a launch partner and support their SmallSat Rideshare Program which is certainly a one-of-its-kind, exceeding expectations in terms of pricing and accommodation.”
”SpaceX is honored Kepler chose our Falcon 9 rideshare program to launch a portion of its innovative nanosatellite constellation, which will help close global gaps in internet connectivity,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “SpaceX is looking forward to delivering these important spacecraft to orbit for Kepler.”
Kepler’s LEO satellite constellation will be comprised of approximately 140 satellites. Planned to be deployed in three phases, from 2020 to 2023 and each with an incremental number of satellites launched, Kepler’s LEO constellation will grow to become a space data relay system to serve other constellations with high-speed data backhaul capabilities. Today, the company is focused on building the install base for Global Data ServiceTM, its pole-to-pole wideband connectivity service for mobile and fixed applications. EverywhereIOTTM, Kepler’s affordable solution for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, will enter user trials in the coming months.
Capella to Start Commercial Operations in 2020 with Launch of Seven Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites
SAN FRANCISCO, December 16, 2019 — Capella Space, an information services company providing Earth observation data on demand, today announced it will launch seven synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites and start commercial operations in 2020. Powering this next step are Capella’s breakthrough engineering technology innovations that make it the first small satellite SAR company in the industry to capture truly sub-0.5m very high resolution (VHR) imagery. What’s more is Capella’s ultra-high capacity to capture more images per satellite relative to other small SAR satellites and its ability to deliver SAR data to customers in less than 30 minutes from collection with real-time tasking. Capella’s technology advances over the past year produce economic benefits that cemented major deals with multiple divisions of the U.S. government, including a contract with the U.S. Air Force. Capella is fully funded to complete its seven satellite constellation launch in 2020, with very significant backing from multi-billion-dollar funds DCVC (Data Collective) and Spark Capital.
“Capella embodies DCVC’s mission of applying breakthrough technology to transform major industries while also generating impressive returns,” said Dr. Chris Boshuizen, partner at DCVC and co-founder of Planet Labs. “Their audacious choice of technology gives them a collection capacity that nobody else can deliver, with unit economics that are five times better than the status quo. With new advancements allowing sub-0.5 meter very high resolution, impressive partnerships and a commitment to delivering imagery in real time, Capella reminds me of where Planet was in the optical market several years back: on the cusp of breaking open a massive new commercial opportunity.”
Setting a new technological standard for the industry, Capella’s first wave of operational satellites will feature sub-0.5 meter VHR to capture images of unparalleled quality. The new constellation of satellites will also achieve impressive energy efficiency that enables imaging for up to 10 minutes per orbit, marking a fivefold increase over other small satellite competitors. Combined, the advances mean Capella can deliver more higher-quality images in less time than competitors.
GomSpace, Lockheed Martin Space and Orbital Micro Systems Team Up for New Microwave Sensing Nanosatellite
December 18, 2019: Today, GomSpace (GS) and Lockheed Martin Space agreed to develop and deliver a tailored GS 6U nanosatellite to Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) in the United Kingdom (UK). The contract is worth 17 MSEK and will be financed through an industrial corporation commitment made by Lockheed Martin to the state of Denmark. The project stems from initial introductory meetings first held in 2017, during B2B17 a business networking event aimed at developing new business relationships for the US-based technology company in Denmark.
OMS has developed a proprietary microwave sensor with significant potential to add value to weather forecasting and climate understanding to the benefit of users in a range of commercial and institutional segments. OMS is planning a future nanosatellite constellation to capture data for their intended service offerings and is currently in the early stages of constellation deployment.
Lockheed Martin will financially assist GS to design, develop an optimised 6U nanosatellite platform for the OMS sensor and GS will deliver the integrated 6U satellite to OMS by the end of 2020 for expected launch and evaluation in 2021. Lockheed Martin will also assist GS by providing technical assistance to review and improve GS quality systems, as well as enhance the nanosatellite’s design life.
“This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how GomSpace’s flight-proven systems can be tailored into a dedicated solution for OMS that will hopefully prove itself as the building block for OMS’ intended constellation,” says CEO, Niels Buus, from GomSpace.
OMS, established both in the United States and the UK, consists of an experienced team with unique microwave technology and application knowledge.
“We look forward to working with GomSpace and are truly impressed with their demonstrated capabilities in space and the prospect of leveraging these capabilities in a new 6U platform, adding robustness to our supply chain.” says CEO, William Hosack, from OMS.
For Lockheed Martin, which has launched more than 150 Small satellites (SmallSats), investing in this project aligns with the company’s expectations that many future space missions will be flown using hybrid architectures with a mixture of SmallSats and traditional larger satellites in a variety of orbits.
“We are pleased to be able to bring together this project to help create a state-of-the-art nanosatellite and microwave sensing capabilities,” said Amber Gell, International Advanced Programs Development Manager from Lockheed Martin.
Rocket Lab Opens Launch Complex 2, Confirms U.S. Air Force Payload as First Electron Mission from U.S. Soil
December 12, 2019: Launch Complex 2, Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. – Rocket Lab, the global leader in small satellite launch, has today officially opened Launch Complex 2, the company’s first U.S. launch site, and confirmed the inaugural mission from the site will be a dedicated flight for the U.S. Air Force.
Located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 represents a new national launch capability for the United States. Construction on the site began in February 2019, with the site completed and ready to support missions just 10 months later. Designed to support rapid call-up missions, Launch Complex 2 delivers responsive launch capability from home soil for U.S. government small satellites. The ability to deploy satellites to precise orbits in a matter of hours, not months or years, is increasingly important to ensure resilience in space.
At a press conference held at NASA Wallops Flight Facility today, the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program has been announced as the first customer scheduled to launch on an Electron vehicle from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2. The dedicated mission will see a single research and development micro-sat launched from the site in Q2 2020.
Rocket Lab’s Founder and Chief Executive, Peter Beck, says the completion of Launch Complex 2 represents a new era in frequent, reliable and responsive space access from the United States.
Hawkeye360 Awarded Study Contract by the National Reconnaissance Office
Herndon, Virginia (December 11, 2019) — HawkEye 360 Inc., the first commercial company to use formation flying satellites to create a new class of radio frequency (RF) data analytics, today announced it has been awarded a contract for a commercial RF survey study from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Through the contract, HawkEye 360 will examine the integration of commercial RF capabilities and products into the NRO’s geospatial intelligence architecture.
“This award from the NRO will further our efforts to make our RF data readily accessible to serve the U.S. government,” said John Serafini, Chief Executive Officer, HawkEye 360. “We believe our satellites can complement traditional government systems, introducing a commercial signals capability that is easy to access and share in support of mission needs.”
Under the study contract, HawkEye 360 will perform assessments, demonstrations, and analysis to validate that commercial RF survey, ordering, cataloging, and data products can integrate into the NRO architecture. These demonstrations will support the review and enhancement of commercial processes for the development of an end-to-end management system.
HawkEye 360 launched its initial three satellites in December 2018 to globally identify and geolocate a broad range of RF signals. Since achieving commercial operation in April 2019, HawkEye has been working closely with customers to test and bring multiple products to market.
It's Time to Tame the "Wild West" of Space
With LEO orbits littered with space junk, and news of near-collisions becoming ever more frequent, the potential for disaster rises. If we do nothing, we could soon find access to LEO orbits blocked by a massive debris field - an event predicted by NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler and known as the Kessler Effect.
Today, anyone who can raise enough cash can launch thousands of satellites, congest LEO orbits, and increase the probability of a catastrophic collision event. Unlike GEOs that are subject to strict regulation across the GEO Arc, LEO operators are allowed to launch with only tacit approval from the FCC.
In addition, no mechanism exists to enforce the removal of defunct satellites or to limit the number operators are permitted to launch. It's time to tame the "wild west" of space.
Consider the madness. SpaceX has received approval from the FCC to launch 42,000 satellites. That's in addition to Project Kuiper's 784 satellites at 367 miles altitude, 1,296 satellites at 379 miles, and 1,156 satellites at 391 miles.
In addition, OneWeb is also planning to launch up to 2,000 spacecraft, and let's not forget the Russians and the Chinese, who may launch their constellations and the CubeSats.
As of January 2019, 900 CubeSats were in orbit, and in the next eight years, 6,000 more are slated for launch. Add to this massive collection of satellites and the over 200,000 pieces of space junk larger than 10 cm already in orbit, and the potential for disaster looms large.
Considering that even the tiniest particle moving at 17,000 Km/hour can crack windows on the ISS, the prospect of a massively destructive debris field fueled is frighteningly real.
While there is a movement to clean up LEO orbits led by such organizations as the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the European Space Agency, only minimal proposals to remove space junk have taken root. While existing ITU rules mandate that defunct satellites must be de-orbited after 25 years, for LEOs, these rules are obsolete.
The way to attack this dilemma is to regulate the launch providers and limit the number of satellites they are permitted to launch. In addition:
Satellite operators planning to launch LEOs should post removal fees upfront. As one or more of the largest LEO constellations are likely to go bankrupt, funds to remove defunct satellites cannot be assured;
Satellites must have thrusters capable of maneuvering to avoid collisions;
Every project must be economically viable, and its environmental impact must be manageable.
Let's not ignore the fact that LEO orbits are a finite resource, like spectrum. Just as we would not allow rogue broadcasters and emitters of RF to roam across any frequency, we can't permit the unregulated exploitation of LEO orbits. The danger is just too great.
- Alan Gottlieb
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It's new, and its coming soon. It's SmartSky's new ATG network. Featuring a unique open architecture and 5G features, it is easily upgradable and may be the best yet defense against IFC technology obsolescence - one of aviation industry's greatest fears. It's a technology whose time has come.
As SmartSky prepares to launch service, we sat down with president Ryan Stone to find out more about the company, trends in IFC, and how their innovative technology will impact the industry.
SMW: What is the current state of the Smartsky network, have you encountered any unexpected obstacles to deployment, and when do you expect full 48 state coverage?
Ryan Stone: We are at a point now where we are making excellent progress and are adding additional cell sites to our network every week. The last critical network component, a remote radio head that goes in between the antenna and the ground equipment, is now coming off the production line in a regular and accelerated rate.
Once it is installed, the sites will go on the air. Over 200 towers, covering 90% of all flight hours are already in place and geographically, that means our network covers most of the U.S. where business aircraft operate. By the end of 2020, we will have the entire U.S. covered, including the more sparsely traveled areas.
In the interim, we have done a lot of demos in the air and seen very good speeds and extremely low latency, around 100 milliseconds, and have even proven the network in gaming sessions. Overall, our service is on track both in terms of implementation and performance. Once the radio head installations are complete, we expect to bring the network online in the second quarter of 2020.
SMW: Do you have any plans to enter international markets, and if so, can you tell us about your progress?
Ryan Stone: We have been laser-focused on launching the U.S. network and plan to go international after that. We are looking at Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean and other international markets around the world where there are high-density flight corridors. That’s where there is much potential for our technology. India is another good example.
SMW: In your view, what are the differences between the business and commercial jet markets, and why has SmartSky chosen to first enter the business jet vs. commercial aircraft IFC market?
Ryan Stone: The economics are different, but both segments are good markets, and we intend to penetrate both. The markets are similar in that they have pent up demand for high performance, reliable connectivity and both have outgrown legacy IFC systems. In addition to the escalating bandwidth demand from passengers, there is an increasing trend to download operational data in both the business jet and commercial segments.
In terms of differences, in the commercial aircraft passenger segment, the number of users per flight is high compared to the business jet segment, and airlines are experimenting with varying pricing models. In the business jet environment, performance demands are much higher, and the owner of the business jet pays for the IFC service. Also, in private aviation, there are few, if any, restrictions on usage. Passengers may stream data, do video conferencing, make phone calls, wherein commercial aviation, many of these services would be prohibited.
So, it just depends on the market and how you go about monetizing it. For example, when you look at commercial aviation in the past, part of the reason it has not been as profitable is that the providers subsidized it. In many cases, the providers paid for the installation of systems on the aircraft, and compensation was through revenue sharing agreements. This model, where the airline gets everything for free, and magically, everyone makes money, has led to substantial losses. Now, subsidies have ended in favor of a model where risks are more equitably shared.
In our model, installation and operational costs are significantly below satellite. Unlike satellite where the return link is minimal, our return link is the same as our downlink. While legacy satellite systems employ beam sharing, we do not.
In our network, each aircraft receives has a dedicated beam, resulting in always-on full capacity, and allowing us to provide high throughput even in highly congested airspace.
Dedicated, high-capacity uplink beams also facilitate uploading data aircraft operational data to the Cloud, making applications such as predictive maintenance possible. Because our full bi-directional ATG connectivity allows us to address the need for both passenger connectivity and aircraft operations, we see significant profit potential in both commercial and private aircraft segments. Therefore, we will pursue commercial as well as business aviation markets.
SMW: A lot of competitive satellite technology, in addition to ATG is about to become available for business jets. Existing HTS Ku-band is soon to be joined by ViaSat’s one terabit Ka-Band satellites, SES O3b mPower, an expanded and more powerful GX network, and new LEO satellites. Assuming that suitable flat panel antennas become available for mid-sized and small business jets, which of these connectivity options are likely to dominate the large, medium, and small business jet IFC markets and why?
Ryan Stone: I think it comes down to the mission and size of the aircraft as to what’s possible. From our perspective, we believe that ATG plays a role regardless of a jet’s size. That’s because we can provide connectivity at a much better price than satellite for any jet that goes over land.
Because mid-sized and smaller jets or turboprops can’t accommodate tail or fuselage mounted satellite antennas, ATG puts us in a great position to dominate these markets. We even have a lower cost, single blade antenna installation for the smallest aircraft.
For the larger aircraft that are flying overseas, satellite is an obvious choice. Still, when you talk to the jet owners, they also care about redundancy and affordability. So, they will install a Ka-Band satellite system and a Safety Services system such as Swift Broadband or Iridium Next, and they will also fit an ATG system like SmartSky. Why would they do that?
It’s because business jet satellite plans have data caps. Using our ATG system allows them to purchase less expensive data plans with lower data thresholds and faster speeds, high bandwidth return links, and lower latency to augment their satellite system. When ATG is available, it can lower their total IFC costs and provide passengers with much better performance.
For example, the costs associated with typical satellite connectivity plans for large business jets are substantial. They could be as high as $20,000 per/month for 20 Gigabytes, and for $50,000, 50 Gigabytes. Our high-end ATG plan is roughly $7,000 for 50 Gigabytes.
We also make it easy to employ a hybrid, ATG/Satellite system and have already demonstrated an intelligent router that automatically switches between the two systems using ATG whenever it is available. That’s why we believe we have a great solution that works with aircraft of all types – those that fly overseas missions and those confine their operations to the lower 48.
SMW: In the high-end business jet market, how important is latency? Do existing GEO HTS services perform adequately in applications such as voice and video conferencing?
Ryan Stone: What is latency, and why does it even matter? Let me give you an analogy. It’s sort of having enough oil in your car for your engine to run. It helps everything run smoothly.
For example, there are many requests that go back and forth when you request a web page. That’s why a Web page will load much slower on a satellite system than it will on the ground when you are on LTE or your cable modem. Voice and video communications and VPNs also work much better in a low latency scenario. Also, most companies today use Cloud-based services and VPNs, which are very latency-sensitive.
That’s a major reason why companies are coming to us and our partners. We have latency under 100 milliseconds.
For the user, latency is all about perception. Until you have a system that works better, you don’t know what you are missing. I promise you that if passengers knew of a low latency option, they would be complaining.
SMW:What IFC and related technologies have had the most impact on business aviation to date, and which do you believe will have the most impact in the future?
Ryan Stone: If we look back on the last decade, I would say that the first generation of inflight connectivity made a tremendous impact on business aviation. Before IFC, aircraft were off the network during flight. With it, they are on the network.
The use of early technology led to the realization that better technology was needed, and that has spurred the development of the more advanced and reliable second generation ATG and satellite systems that we have today.
In the future, LEOs are on the horizon along with flat panel, electronically steered antennas. Latency with these closer-to-earth satellites will be better than GEO but still not as good as ATG.
While there is a lot more technology to come, we believe we can deliver the best service available and will continue to play a major role in advancing IFC, whatever technology is available.
SMW: If a business jet operator were to ask you to provide the most obsolescence-proof technology, what would that be?
Let’s start by saying there is no such thing as obsolescence proof technology. What you are looking for in place of obsolescence proof technology is the most future-ready, adaptable technology. I am talking about networks that are easily upgradable. I am talking about a software defined IFC service. That’s what we are launching.
We’re using 5G technology – software-defined radios, beamforming, and virtualization. With it, when you want to upgrade the system, we simply load new software, thereby extending the network lifecycle. With each software upgrade, functionality and performance can be increased.
For example, we may need to increase the number of beams available in or network to handle additional demand. That’s not a problem for us. Additionaly through the use of software-defined network infrastructure, we offer an open architecture that allows third party providers to easily integrate new hardware and features into our network.
For example, we made a choice that we were not going to lock ourselves into a particular router. Our competitors include a specific router in their “box.” That means you are locked into their ecosystem. If they don’t invent it, you’re not going to get it.
In our case, if someone comes up with a wireless access point that can switch between satellite and ATG, you can install it. That’s what one of our customers just did on a G550.
Another example might be if you want a particular inflight entertainment system. Our open architecture is designed to encourage other companies to innovate. This way, our customers can be assured that their networks will have the latest and best network available.
SMW: Value-added software, including Predictive Analytics applications, collection, and streaming of critical data to the ground, are becoming more common in the commercial airline industry. Is this also happening in the business jet environment, and what is SmartSky doing in these areas?
Ryan Stone: In the business jet environment, predictive analytics is lagging behind its use in the commercial segment, but it’s advancing rapidly.
We have made a lot of advances in this area through our Skytelligence division. Through Skytelligence, we are creating an ecosystem with the tools required to catalyze a new generation of value-added applications.
For example, we just announced an agreement with IATA under which we are sharing and distributing turbulence data. By safeguarding the origin of the data, we assure privacy.
Ultimately, this agreement allows both commercial airlines and business aircraft to access the data through the electronic flight bag carried onboard by most aircraft, assuring a smooth ride for all.
We also have developed a series of algorithms we call trajectory optimizers that can be used to develop flight path optimization applications.
While our software will run on any network, the fact that our system offers a high-speed uplink, makes the sharing of data and, in particular, images much more practical than over an asymmetrical satellite connection. In essence, SmartSky offers an unmatched symphony of advantages.
At SmartSky, Software-Defined Networks Take Flight
An Interview with SmartSky Networks President, Ryan Stone
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"...there is no such thing as obsolescence proof technology. What you are looking for in place of obsolescence proof technology is the most future-ready, adaptable technology. I am talking about networks that are easily upgradable. I am talking about a software defined IFC service.."
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Delivery of high-speed Internet to remote regions using High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) has been an objective of numerous companies, including Google, Facebook, Boeing, and others. However, many efforts have been abandoned, despite the expenditure of millions of dollars on ultra-light aircraft and even balloons.
Ultra-light aircraft designed to fly in the stratosphere have proven too fragile to survive the ascent and descent through the turbulent, mid-level layers of the atmosphere, and while Google has achieved some success with stratospheric balloons, usage is not widespread.
Yet, there is hope. One ultra-light solar-powered aircraft has proven its ability to circumnavigate the globe and survive, not in the stratosphere, but at lower altitudes, a feat once thought to be impossible. It's the Solar Impulse.
Made famous by its 2016 manned flight around the world, the aircraft is sufficiently robust, enabling it to inhabit mid-level altitudes and potentially remain on station for weeks or months at a time.
Unlike HAPs operating in the stratosphere, Skydweller, the unmanned Solar Impulse airframe, could carry much higher power communications equipment and large cameras. In those roles, it could be uniquely useful for selective delivery of high-speed broadband and ultra-high-resolution imagery - all at a fraction of the cost of satellite systems.
While the Solar Impulse team was aware of the value inherent in a drone version of the aircraft, they had little experience in that domain. Recognizing the potential business opportunity for an unmanned version, a start-up company, Skydweller Aero,with the experience necessary to unman the aircraft and unlock its value, bought the Solar Impulse aircraft and associated intellectual property in 2016.
Led by its founders, Robert Miller Ph.D, CEO and JD Parkes CSO, and their CTO Allen Gardner, the management team brought together years of combined experience in the defense industry and in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Funded by an initial $32 million, including a sizable investment from European aerospace company Leonardo, Skydweller Aero plans to initially target the defense industry with surveillance and communications services and later expand into commercial markets.
According to CTO Gardner, the government is the “anchor tenant." "The communications market for the government is huge, and there are many requirements that Skydweller Aero can uniquely satisfy."
In the longer term, Gardner sees Skydweller's offerings in communications and intelligence applications as significantly higher in value than those conducted by satellites and aircraft today.
Skydweller vs. Satellite:
While it's possible to build a better and better communications satellites each year, satellites can only project a limited amount of bandwidth into a footprint.
With Skydweller, using multiple aircraft and spectrum reuse, it’s possible to create multiple “cells” in much the same way as a cellular network uses multiple base stations, resulting in much more efficient use of spectrum than satellite coverage.
For imaging applications, because Skydweller can linger at lower altitudes over a target for days while carrying high-resolution cameras, , it can collect the high- value imagery that is required for many of the geospatial market verticals.
Skydweller vs. HAPs:
In a broadband communications application, while HAPS positioned in the stratosphere can see farther, their lightweight construction limits the amount of available transmit power. Combined with their greater distance from the ground, the effective coverage area is limited to around 60 to 100 Km, obviating their altitude advantage. Skydweller can double their coverage areas because it’s a different aircraft design with more solar area and has ten times the power, and can shoot a beam farther. When you are trying to close a data link, it’s about power and aperture.
For example, Gardner notes that "the Facebook Aquilla Drone had a goal of providing a 100 Km diameter beam on the ground. At 60,000 feet, the horizon would allow it to have a footprint of nearly 1,000 kilometers away, but available power limits its broadband coverage area to only 100 Km. So, the question is: why fly in the stratosphere to generate a 100 Km footprint? There’s little to gain by going to that altitude."
In intelligence gathering applications, Skydweller offers advantages beyond the use of both satellite and existing military surveillance aircraft.
Using high-resolution cameras and flying at medium altitudes, the aircraft can produce higher resolution images than satellites and can even identify faces.
While the military has aircraft capable of similar imaging capabilities, they cannot linger over a target for more than a few hours, necessitating an expensive "CAP" or relay scenario requiring multiple aircraft to satisfy one target.
While the value of Skydweller in intelligence operations is well defined, its use for broadband communications needs to be viewed on a case by case basis.
Although the Skydweller can offer very high bandwidth, 10s of Gbps, its coverage areas are limited to "hot spots." Because cruise vessels need coverage everywhere and pay per/month for fixed bandwidth links, the cost of localized, ultra-high-speed bandwidth would be additive, defeating any potential economic advantage. Besides, today, the maximum usage per/vessel is around 400 Mbps, well within the capabilities of current satellite-based connectivity.
In the longer term, however, satellite operators could find it feasible to rely on Skydweller for niche applications. When existing satellite capacity becomes inadequate, Skydweller could be a low-cost alternative to launching more satellites.
However, given the current satellite capacity available for cruise, and expected capacity additions, the need for a lower-cost alternative is years away.
Oil and Gas:
Oilfield use of a satellite alternative like Skydweller could make sense in some offshore drilling markets.
Traditionally, rigs and platforms using fiber have contracted for VSAT as a backup solution, making a similar model possible using a combination of Skydweller and satellite. In addition, the low-latency connectivity offered by Skydweller is an advantage when running certain applications.
While surveillance is a primary focus, the the aircraft could also be used a forward communications hub. In this scenario, different radios operating in varying frequencies and protocols could be connected through an "orbiting" Skydweller "hub" and linked back to a central site via satellite. The result would be greatly enhanced communications networking solution. Of course, the ability to provide a network extension of high-speed broadband capability could also be useful where rapid deployment of assets is required and high bandwidth connectivity is a key element of the mission. Skydweller's low cost combined with ease of deployment could also make it potentially useful in third-world Internet markets where the cost of satellite connectivity is prohibitive.
Skydweller Aero is an intriguing venture. Defense applications represent a potentially lucrative early cash flow, and the need for a low-cost alternative to satellites in niche commercial markets could yield considerable opportunity in the future.
Skydweller Aero: A High-Altitude Platform That Works
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An Interview with Payam Banazadeh, CEO, Capella Space
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a valuable earth observation tool. Because it can see at night and through clouds, it's ideal for mapping, monitoring urban growth, oil spills, global change, and for use in military surveillance.
However, until now, the ability to deploy SAR from space has been limited to large and costly satellites. Capella Space, an ambitious new company, is about to change that.
Founded in 2014 by Payam Banazadeh, a Stanford educated businessman and former NASA engineer, Capella has raised $80 million.
With one small satellite already in orbit, it is well on its way to becoming a widely used source of earth observation data. To find out more, in September, we met with Payam at "World Satellite Business Week" in Paris.
SMW: How did Capella Space evolve? What was the original concept that drove the formation of the business, and how did it grow into what it is today?
Payam Banazadeh: I was mystified when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing in 2014. If a Boeing 777 with 239 passengers can go missing, there must be a lot more vital information that we're unable to monitor.
After working at NASA, I founded Capella Space in 2014, intending to build a data company that provides persistent, reliable information from space using a constellation of small satellites. Since then, we have raised $80 million in funding from investors such as Data Collective Venture Capital (DCVC) and Spark Capital and have grown to 70 employees.
Three years later, we continue to believe that persistent monitoring of our planet is essential to our well-being.
SMW: On your website, you note your objective is hourly coverage of any point on Earth. I understand that you are planning a constellation of 36 satellites in 12 polar orbital planes. How many satellites have you launched to date, and what is time frame for completing the constellation?
Payam Banazadeh: We launched Denali (our first pathfinder satellite) in December of 2018, and our first commercial-ready satellite named Sequoia will be launched in Q1 2020, followed by the six-satellite Whitney constellation. A three satellite wave will go up in June 2020 and the second wave in Q3/Q4.
By the end of 2020, we will have a total of seven satellites, which allows us to provide four collections per day over any area of interest globally. We plan to continue sizing up our constellation every year to provide the highest revisit capability in the world.
Can you give us an overview of a typical satellite?
Payam Banazadeh: For our constellation to be financially feasible and for reasons such as product performance, supply chain management, and full control over future satellite upgrades, we chose to design and build our satellites.
We have spent the last three years iterating on a small satellite design to provide a robust solution for the collection of very high-resolution sub-0.5m imagery out of a <100kg platform.
To meet this requirement, we built a high-compaction SAR antenna with full aperture size, comparable to those used on large multi-million-dollar SAR satellites. We then paired it with a high-power, wide-bandwidth radar system.
Our satellites are arguably some of the most technologically advanced space assets that exist in the market. We are bringing innovations from outside of the aerospace industry (such as GPUs) and putting them into our satellites.
We have also partnered with Inmarsat and Addvalue to be the only SAR operator to provide near real-time tasking to our customers. This partnership allows our customers to task our satellites the moment they have a need to collect imagery and significantly reduces the latency and reactivity of using space in an actionable way.
SMW: As I understand it, synthetic aperture radio is not a new concept. Launched by the Canadian Space Agency in 1995, RADARSAT-1 used a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor to image the Earth at a single microwave frequency of 5.3 GHz, in the C band (wavelength of 5.6 cm. Each of RADARSAT-1's seven beam modes offered a different image resolution.
Radarsat-2 launched in 2007, featured multiple polarization modes, including a fully polarimetric mode in which HH, HV, VV, and VH polarized data are acquired. Its highest resolution is 1 m in Spotlight mode (3 m in Ultra-fine mode). In ScanSAR Wide Beam mode the SAR has a nominal swath width of 500 km and an imaging resolution of 100 m.
How do Capella's satellites differ in terms of economics and technical capabilities vs. Radarsat, and Iceye, i.e., resolution, timeliness of data delivery, number of images per/orbit?
Payam Banazadeh: Every space system is optimized for very specific mission objectives. You can’t build one system that is the best for all objectives due to time and costs--what you’ll have is a satellite the size of a school bus that takes five years to build and test and costs upwards of a billion dollars. It’s just not financially viable for a constellation build-out.
If you are building a small satellite, you must select what you believe are the right features for your chosen markets. When it comes to earth observation, all functionalities are intertwined: resolution, swath width, quality, and capacity.
Following extensive market research and thousands of customer interviews, we have decided to put our focus on resolution, quality, and capacity at the expense of swath for Capella’s first-generation satellites.
Based on our ranking of value versus complexity, we decided to build a radar satellite capable of sub-0.5m resolution that is capable of more than 10 minutes of imaging per orbit.
Other SAR small satellite players optimized their system for broader swath at the expense of lower resolution and quality. A system built to provide a 50-100km swath at 3-10m resolution is not going to be very efficient in providing a 1m resolution imagery in the sub-100kg class. You can’t have it all.
Furthermore, we believe capacity is extremely important as it impacts not only the total number of users and locations you could service but the unit economics.
A low capacity system would either have to operate at much lower profit margins or higher prices, making it uncompetitive and uninteresting to investors.
In addition to our focus on resolution, quality, and capacity for our system design, we decided to spend a significant amount of investment on data latency and data delivery.
We automated our entire tasking, scheduling, and data delivery by partnering with Inmarsat, Addvalue, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), a strategy enabling us to offer real-time tasking. In 2020 our customers will be able to receive an order confirmation within 15 minutes of a request and imagery within 30 minutes of collection.
SMW: On your website, you enumerate several applications – Agriculture, Government, Banking, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure Monitoring, Commodity Trading. In each of the applications you mention, what are the specific imaging requirements? Can you give us some examples and explain how your satellites meet the specific needs of the customer?
Payam Banazadeh: Most SAR applications are designed to monitor selected targets and detect when change occurs.
Our core capability is reliable monitoring from space in all weather and light conditions, and we are starting to build a capability to provide multiple layers of time-indexed information as change occurs.
The resultant high-temporal-resolution interferometric (InSAR) stacks can contain tens or even hundreds of images. and are ideal for automated change detection, the measurement of subtle ground surface changes, and machine learning applications.
SMW: In what order will you target these markets? How will your launch schedul effect your ability to serve these markets? For example, in what markets is the timeliness of data critical to the customer and dependent on the number of satellites you have in orbit?
Payam Banazadeh: We are initially very focused on government customers both in the U.S. and internationally. These customers have significant gaps in their capabilities. They understand SAR and geospatial data and have budgets to spend on capabilities such as those offered by Capella.
We believe in 2020, with our seven satellites, we will be able to serve these customers and solve their global problems immediately. In parallel, we are looking at other commercial markets such as Energy, Oil & Gas, Insurance, Maritime and Urban Development/Infrastructure.
SMW: In one of your press releases, you speak about using AIS and ISR to detect illegal shipping activity? How can the two data sets be combined to achieve that objective? Also, are you familiar with Hawkeye360 and their model, which combines RF imaging with an AIS data set?
Payam Banazadeh: As a majority of illegal activities in open waters are conducted by dark ships, the ability to positively identify a vessel is extremely valuable to law enforcement. By combining AIS signals with SAR, we can identify dark ships that are not broadcasting their AIS sign.
We are also familiar with Hawkeye360 and are excited about their capabilities and potential of combining our data to provide solutions to customers.
SMW: How are you different from other smallsat SAR players?
Payam Banazadeh: We differentiate ourselves through resolution, quality, latency of service, capacity, and ease of use. We are very focused on our roadmap and believe the product will speak for itself.
If customers are asking for high-quality sub 0.5m resolution, care about latency of tasking and delivery, and want to monitor many areas globally, we will have the best product for them. Other providers are focused on other markets and customers.
SMW: What is the business model? Do you sell raw data only or value-added analysis or both? Is this a subscription-based service? Please explain how you generate revenue.
Payam Banazadeh: We sell raw data, capacity on our satellites, and value-added analysis through our partners. In the future, Capella will offer value-added analysis.
We are a customer-centric, customer-focused, and customer-friendly company.
Every single product that we build must meet customer requirements. The advanced hardware we deploy is just a by-product of a solution we have identified based on market demand and requirements. As we learn more about our customers, we will modify our product line to stay in alignment with their needs and demands.
SMW: Can you tell us about the data archive you are creating in the Cloud, and how your clients can make use of it? Is this the primary means by which your clients access the data?
Payam Banazadeh: In the early phases, we are focusing on task-based customers. As we build an archive over regions of interest, we will be able to provide a dense data stack chronicling change over time. We will be monitoring important regions of the world continuously, and as we build our archive, customers can subscribe to their desired regions.
SMW: Can you give us an idea of your vision of the company in 3-5 years? How big can the company grow in terms of revenue, markets?
Payam Banazadeh: We plan to be a major player in the geospatial information market with imagery and information services products.
Since we have deep in-depth expertise in complex space imaging systems, we will be exploring other aerospace markets as we grow the company.
Capella Space: High-Res Synthetic Aperture Radar in a SmallSat
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"Our core capability is reliable monitoring from space in all weather and light conditions, and we are starting to build a capability to provide multiple layers of time-indexed information as change occurs."
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Payam Banazadeh is CEO & Founder of Capella Space, a Silicon Valley company building the largest constellation of commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites in order to provide hourly monitoring services of anywhere in the globe.
Prior to starting Capella Space Payam was a project manager and flight systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and has been awarded NASA Mariner Award, NASA Discovery Award, and NASA Formulation Award.
Most recently Payam was selected to be on the prestigious “Forbes 30 under 30” list in 2017 and Capella has been recognized by New York Times, Bloomberg, and recently Inc magazine as one of the top 25 disruptive companies in the world.
Payam holds a business/management degree from Stanford University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Texas.
EVERYWHERE Communications has developed an innovative unified communications platform. Leveraging the Iridium network in combination with Garmin hardware, proprietary software and a communications hub, the company offers global "always-on" communication.
Capable of data transmission over satellite, cellular, and Internet, the platform is a high-value solution for enterprise and government personnel deployed in remote and environmentally challenging locations.
To learn more about the company, its mission and capabilities, we sat down with Patrick Shay, CEO of the company.
SMW: Patrick, could you begin by telling our readers about your background in the mobile satellite industry?
Patrick Shay: I have over 30 years creating and leading businesses connecting vehicles, assets and people, generating over $1B in new revenue. Previously, I held senior executive positions at Orbcomm, Iridium, DeLorme, Sirius Satellite Radio and Motorola.
In 2008, I joined Iridium Satellite to form a new data business, which we built into the fastest-growing part of the company. Today, Iridium’s data business has over 767,000 subscribers and $70 million in annual revenues.
In 2012, I became vice president and general manager of DeLorme, launching the company’s strategic move into satellite communications with the inReach product, followed by a couple of years as executive vice president of ORBCOMM to develop and launch a suite of IoT and M2M solutions.
SMW: Who are your initial investors?
Patrick Shay: Gemini Capital LLC, founded by Dan Colussy, former chairman of Iridium Satellite, is the lead investment partner in EVERYWHERE.
Dan, of course, is very well known in the satellite community as the man who led the team that successfully purchased Iridium out of bankruptcy and rebuilt it into a global and profitable business that now serves over a million customers worldwide.
We also have secured additional capital from other industry leaders and experts and now offer a full portfolo of services to government and commercial markets.
SMW: What’s so unique about this new enterprise you have launched? How is it different from other companies offering satellite and cellular communications?
Patrick Shay: EVERYWHERE is a unified communications company. Our unique infrastructure melds cellular, WiFi, satellite and Internet into a common communications platform capable of reaching personel anywhere on Earth, regardless of the network technology employed. It is fully integrated and automatic and is seamless and transparent to the user.
Managed through a central hub, the platform routes data over the most efficient medium available. Using our platform, our clients can locate assets, or send data anywhere in the world, regardless of whether the receiving party is located within cellular coverage. With it, we can offer a broad portfolio of critical services to those operating in challenging environments and remote locations.
Our Web portal and smartphoine app provides communications with workers in the field, a visual snapshot of their assets, and status of alarms or other sensor readings. Using this information, managers can assess the situation and respond accordingly.
SMW: What market segments are you targeting?
Patrick Shay: We are focusing on government and enterprise customers who deploy people and assets into remote regions of the world. Our typical customers include national and local government agencies, international governments and NGOs, disaster relief and recovery, law enforcement and private security, forestry, oil/gas, mining, and other organizations with remote operations.
SMW: What can you tell me about your relationship with Garmin?
Patrick Shay: As you know, Garmin purchased DeLorme back in 2016.
Because of my background with them, as well as that of several members of my engineering team, we were able to create a partnership that allowed us to integrate inReach devices into our platform. We believe it provides the best of both worlds – Garmin hardware and EVERYWHERE software and systems.
SMW: How will a worker in the field communicate?
Patrick Shay: Those needing to communicate via satellite can use their inReach or EC-100 device in stand-alone mode or in combination with the EVERYWHERE app on their smartphone. It has built-in GPS for mapping, and team tracking. Each device is small and lightweight and can be attached to the user’s clothing for hands-free operation.
Tell us more about the safety aspects of this new service? How does the SOS function work?
Patrick Shay: Our personal communication devices have an SOS function that sends an immediate distress message to a designated monitoring and safety center and includes a two-step activation process that reduces the likelihood of a false alarm - unlike one-way emergency beacon systems,
EVERYWHERE provides a two-way data connection, enabling the safety authorities to determine the nature of the emergency so they can respond with appropriate resources.
SMW: I understand you will also be providing tracking and telemetry of remote assets, such as vehicles, construction machines, and even pipeline pumping stations. How does this work?
Patrick Shay: Using our intuitive web-based asset monitoring platform, our clients have a complete end-to-end system for tracking, monitoring, and managing of assets.
Services include real-time position reporting, geofencing, and remote query and configuration of assets. We can interface with our own asset tracking devices as well as third-party devices.
The EVERYWHERE Hub provides real-time situational awareness and asset tracking by consolidating position, status, and message information and enabling data communication with two-way capable devices. The ability to visualize the whole picture – knowing where your assets are, and what state they are in – ensures that your personnel can effectively manage your remote operations.
Whether it is taking readings from a temperature sensor or a pressure valve, monitoring goods in transit, or tracking a delivery vehicle, we provide secure and reliable connectivity.
SMW: In your press release, you talked about the experienced team you put together. Can you tell us more about your key executives and their experience and expertise?
Patrick Shay: Our leadership team consists of long-time industry professionals with over 30 years of experience. We have been responsible for creating over $2 billion in connected services with companies including Motorola, Nextel, Verizon, SiriusXM, Iridium, Skybitz and DeLorme.
SMW: After 18 months in business, what have you achieved?
Patrick Shay: We have built a solid foundation and we are just now beginning to see the fruits. Our devices are now deployed in over 40 countries around the globe, by security companies, oil & gas companies, environmental organizations, government agencies and NGOs.
We have a proven technology platform that’s been deployed for ten years, a fantastic group of investors and a team of employees who are passionate about this business. They all share the vision of connecting and protecting people around the world.
An Interview with EVERYWHERE Communications CEO, Patrick Shay
A Unified Communications Platform with Global Reach
"Our unique infrastructure melds cellular, WiFi, satellite, and Internet into common communications platform capable of reaching anyone on Earth, regardless of the device or network employed."
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About Patrick Shay
Patrick has over 30 years creating and leading businesses connecting vehicles, assets and people, generating over $1B in new revenue. Previously Patrick held senior executive positions at Orbcomm, Iridium, DeLorme, Sirius Satellite Radio and Motorola.
There are many mobility related satellite industry events and unless you have an unlimited budget, here are the "must attends" (in blue) and others that may be of interest.
*****Satellite 2020: 9-12 March 2020: Washington D.C.: The Industry's most important satellite exhibition and conference - a must attend.
****Asia Pacific Maritime: 18-20 March, Singapore
Biggest maritime show in Asia.
*****SeaTrade Cruise Global, Miami: 21-23 April: The Cruise Industry is a huge user of VSAT services. making this show an important venue. It should not be missed - an important event for satellite service suppliers.
****Posidonia: 1-5 June Athens, Greece: Another important show maritime VSAT, especially for those targeting the tanker and container segment.
****CommunicAsia: June 9 - 11th, Singapore
The biggest communications trade show in Asia. Not to be missed.
****Global Connected Aircraft: June 10-13 Denver: A popular conference address in commercial aircraft connectivity.
*****Small Satellite Conference: Logan, Utah: August 3-8. Unquestionably the best small satellite conference available. With over 3,000 attendees, this conference is enormously popular.
****SMM: Hamburg, Germany' September 8-11 September 2020: A must attend for those interested in VSAT use in the cargo segments.
******World Satellite Business Week: Paris, France: 10:14 September. Unquestionably, the best satellite conference of the year. WSBW bring together all of the top executives in the industry in an intimate, networking atmosphere at the Westin.
Upcoming and Recommended Satellite Mobility Events