How this spacetech startup is looking to disrupt small satellite communication market through its laser communication solution

Satellites give us a wealth of data and information about Earth and space. They monitor the environment, provide information about defence and security, and help in asset tracking as well. But have you ever wondered how these satellites work?

The satellite communication begins from the Earth station, which transmits and receives signals from satellites in the form of high-frequency signals. Bengaluru-based Astrogate Labs is working to ensure high-speed communications for smallsats.

Founded in 2017 by IIT alumnus and former Team Indus engineers Nitish Singh and Aditya Kedlaya, the startup is developing smallsat terminals and optical ground networks for satellite communication.

Nitish adds that currently RF (radio-frequency) protocols are widely used for inter-satellite as well as satellite-to-ground communications. However, it is an expensive solution and is also limiting in terms of bandwidth.

Thus, Astrogate is looking to disrupt the small satellite communication market through its laser communication solution.

Astrogate Labs, incubated at Innovation & Collaboration Centre, Australia, was launched to address the need for communication infrastructure.

Satellite-to-ground communication solutions

Astrogate is aimed at building an entire chain of optical communication systems to address the problem of high-speed communication in space.

The startup is developing smallsat optical terminals and a network of optical ground terminals. It is also developing a full-stack laser communication solution for small satellites.

Nitish says that smallsat operators can integrate Astrogate’s optical terminal and subscribe to the ground communication plan for a full turn-key solution.

“Laser technology solutions were mainly incorporated in bigger sized satellites earlier due to their size, while smallsats mainly incorporate RF tools. However, laser technology can ensure more bandwidth of data transmission at a lower price. Therefore, Astrogate is developing laser tech-based tool to be incorporated in smallsats,” he adds.

The co-founder explains that Astrogate has developed its first solution, Astro-Link, which offers 1 Gbps satellite-to-ground communication. The product, with 95x95x80mm dimensions, is compatible with cubesat or nanosat. Apart from this, the communication solution is also resistant to jamming and spoofing.

“Astro-Link is our optical terminal, which will be hosted on a nanosatellite. We are currently working on our optical ground station. Our first mission is scheduled for this December,” he says.

For the launch, Astrogate has already partnered with California-based space transportation and logistics company, Momentus, to demonstrate its laser communication technology through its smallsat optical downlink terminal.

Meanwhile, its optical ground station is being set up in collaboration with the University of Tasmania, Australia and will be hosted at Ceduna Observatory site, Australia.

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