Debra Werner, SAN FRANCISCO – Satellite communications startup Analytical Space Inc. won a $26.4 million contract to develop and launch six cubesats and two hosted payloads to begin establishing the Fast Pixel Network for optical communications.
The three-year contract was awarded by AF Ventures, the service’s venture arm, with funding from the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the Air Force Strategic Financing program. ASI investors will match the Air Force funding, according to a Feb. 10 news release.
Through Fast Pixel Network, ASI plans to establish a data transport network in low-Earth orbit to ingests data from geospatial intelligence satellites, send data from node to node via high speed optical intersatellite links, and deliver data to military, intelligence and commercial customers.
“As the space domain becomes more contested over the coming decades, maintaining connectivity with space-based assets and the data they produce will be absolutely critical,” Gil Valdes, ASI government programs business develop lead.
ASI plans to establish a constellation of 16-unit cubesats in three orbital planes with about a dozen satellites in each plane.
“The ultimate network size will be driven by the demand for downlink capacity and the link distances and data rates we’ll be able to achieve between our network nodes and client satellites,” ASI CEO Dan Nevius told SpaceNews by email.
ASI has launched two technology demonstration cubesats. The company plans to launch an additional satellite in late 2021, followed by six satellites and two hosted payloads for the Fast Pixel Network in 2022 and 2023. ASI has raised $6.2 million and has 19 employees.
“The U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center is committed to leveraging a resilient and secure commercial space communications architecture to augment our exquisite systems and deliver increased capabilities for warfighters in all domains,” 1st Lt. Tyler Albright of SMC’s Cross Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise at Los Angeles Air Force Base said in a statement.