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Spaceflight Eyes Small-Satellite Data Communications Market
by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX) Aug 01, 2014

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Spaceflight has announced it is expanding its services to include Spaceflight Networks, a business dedicated to cost-effective spacecraft communications and operations for small-satellite customers. The expansion will make Spaceflight the first and only company dedicated to providing a bundled package of small-satellite communications and data services along with its existing rideshare launch services.

"As small-satellite use and popularity continues to grow, the challenge for operators has shifted from gaining space access to retrieving satellite data in a cost-effective, timely manner," said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight.

"Spaceflight Networks tackles this emerging market need head-on, with an out-of-the-box, convenient communications solution for small-satellite customers seeking the most comprehensive global coverage at the best possible price."

In contrast to satellite communications networks that focus on individual spacecraft, Spaceflight Networks will consist of global ground stations that are optimized for the emerging constellations.

"We have sighted each of our stations to minimize communications latency thereby maximizing constellation throughput," Blake said.

Spaceflight's global ground stations will enable frequent satellite communications and provide a powerful yet cost-competitive option for ground-station communications services, with commercial pricing currently set well below the industry standard.

Spaceflight will offer Spaceflight Networks as a standalone service and will also bundle network services with its existing launch business, creating an efficient, turnkey solution for satellite and constellation developers and operators.

Operating similar to a conventional cellular carrier network, Spaceflight Networks aims to make satellite communications as simple as owning a mobile phone. Spacecraft developers and operators can choose from a list of supported spacecraft radios and then purchase a data plan for use of the ground network-either a dedicated antenna lease and monthly payment, or ad-hoc access and pay-by-the-minute plan.

With the use of software-defined radios, the ground-station capabilities can also be extended to support additional spacecraft radios as necessary to meet customer needs.

The first Spaceflight Networks-operated ground station will be operational in Q1 2015 and located in Washington state, with additional globally dispersed ground stations coming online in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Spaceflight is also working with partner organizations to access additional ground stations and to provide customers with the largest global network, at the most competitive cost for small satellites.


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