Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Astranis is building small, low-cost telecommunications satellites to connect the four billion people on Earth who currently do not have access to the internet. By owning and operating its satellites and offering them to customers as a turnkey solution, Astranis is able to provide bandwidth-as-a-service at a fraction of the cost of legacy providers, unlocking previously unreachable markets.
There is a significant digital divide for global internet access with 4 billion people still lacking reliable broadband internet access. In the United States alone, 42 million people, which is roughly 13% of the population, lack access to high-speed internet. Internet services need to be accessible by both emerging and developed markets. To bridge this gap and enhance widespread internet connectivity, there is a need for an improved approach to satellite construction and deployment.
Astranis is solving one of the largest challenges facing the modern world: reducing the cost of internet access to get the next four billion people online.
By providing satellites that are designed to be smaller, more affordable, and quicker to build than traditional geostationary satellites, Astranis is able to offer internet connectivity to areas that may be too remote or too expensive to reach with traditional ground-based infrastructure or larger, more expensive satellites.
Astranis is building small communications satellites for a geostationary orbit that are 20 times smaller than those of its predecessors – just 350 kg – compared to traditional satellites that are upwards of 6,500 kg.
Astranis can manufacture and launch satellites in as little as 12 months instead of 3-5 years, with more bandwidth than was previously possible with the same form size.
The company’s proprietary software-defined radio technology, which increases satellite performance and flexibility, allows manufacturing at scale, lowering the price point to end consumers.
Astranis differentiates itself in several ways from low-Earth orbit constellations like SpaceX's Starlink, which is a constellation of compact satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Astranis' satellites fly at an altitude of 37,000 km and remain over a single area of the world, where they can deliver continuous service.
Astranis’ Micro geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites weigh approximately 800 pounds, about one-fifteenth of the 13,000-lb. mass of space-communications firm Viasat’s upcoming ViaSat-3 broadband satellite and one-fifteenth the cost.
Astranis’ spacecraft feature proprietary software-defined radios that can be reprogrammed to use different frequencies as needed instead of having their spectrum soldered in place before launch. This capability is key to flexibility and essential for the Astranis' leasing model, in which one satellite may see multiple customers over an expected eight-year lifespan.
Astranis aims to provide backhaul capacity and other services to telecommunications providers in remote areas. For example, instead of laying expensive fiber cables to remote cell towers, a small dish on each tower could pick up a signal from an Astranis satellite.
Astranis’ offering is essentially a much more targeted, nimble solution that works with existing ground infrastructure.
With just one launch, Astranis can provide high-speed, reliable connectivity to an entire state, country, or region.
Astranis launched its first satellite, called Arcturus, to GEO onboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in April 2023. This test demonstrated the core functionality of Arcturus, with the payload fully powered on and including a test of Astranis’s proprietary software-defined radio.
The company has already built four more satellites—one of which will serve a customer in Peru, two for airline Wi-Fi, and one for an unspecified customer—that will launch on a dedicated Falcon 9 mission later this year.
With proven traction in its proprietary technology, Astranis plans to scale production to two satellites per month.
Astranis offers a unique, dedicated service model, with minimal upfront payments and flexibility of ownership—but without its operational challenges.
According to CNBC, Astranis has a demand pipeline worth over $1 billion, representing orders for 10 satellites, over the next two years. CEO Gedmark has said the company remains in “a strong cash position” and is currently focused on making sure it gets service operational as soon as possible.
Astranis CEO Gedmark has estimated the market for broadband demand to be a $1 trillion global opportunity and has noted that Astranis’ existing pipeline features contracts that have options for additional satellites.
In July 2023, Astranis announced its first satellite program in Asia and its first satellite program outside of the Americas. Astranis is launching this program in partnership with Orbits Corp, a satellite services provider and sister company to a local Philippine ISP, HTechCorp, which has over 20 years of experience providing internet services to the 7,000+ islands of the Philippines.
In August 2023, Astranis introduced UtilitySat, the world’s first multi-mission geostationary satellite. UtilitySat is the world’s first multi-mission commercial GEO satellite, capable of conducting multiple fully-operational broadband connectivity missions. UtilitySat can provide connectivity on standard Ku, Ka, and Q/V bands, and has the flexibility to dial in exact frequencies using Astranis’s proprietary ultra-wideband software-defined radio. It can also relocate dozens of times around the GEO belt over its lifetime. It does this using Astranis’ unique onboard dual-propulsion architecture, which includes both a chemical monopropellant system and an electric ion thruster.
In August 2023, Astranis announced that they signed a contract with a trusted partner of the national security space community to demonstrate secure end-to-end communications using the Arcturus satellite. As part of this effort, Astranis will use the Arcturus satellite to demonstrate secure uplink and downlink from San Francisco to Alaska, and back. This on-orbit test was scoped and planned out extremely quickly — a vast improvement over legacy approaches that may have taken years to come together. This demo shows the growing agility to rapidly address national security needs with Astranis's MicroGEO and could lead to the procurement of multiple, dedicated satellite assets in the future.
In September 2023, Astranis announced it is partnering with Apco Networks to launch two satellites dedicated to Mexico in 2024, which will connect up to five million people to affordable broadband internet. Astranis satellites will allow Apco to provide a managed service for many different kinds of connectivity — WiFi sites, direct-to-enterprise, and backhaul for rural cell sites.