Another small satellite constellation is coming, this time from a rather unlikely source. Inflight entertainment and connectivity middle-man Anuvu (formerly Global Eagle) will bring “MicroGEO” satellites into service, launching its first constellation in partnership with next-generation satellite manufacturer Astranis.
Astranis and its MicroGEO satellites will offer Anuvu customers freedom from decades-long contracts or outdated legacy systems. Most significantly, they are quick to market, have a mission life of seven to ten years, and can be controlled and updated from the ground, enabling our mobility clients to pivot their business model as new technology is introduced.– Josh Marks, CEO, Anuvu
The new satellites weigh in significantly smaller and lighter than current GEO offerings. Astranis expects each to be approximately 400kg and 1 meter cubes. The smaller satellites are faster and cheaper to build, plus easier to launch. The companies expect a lifespan of 7-10 years. That is less than traditional GEO satellites by at least half, but the hope is to more frequently refresh and upgrade the offering at a lower overall cost.
“The world’s demand for connectivity is insatiable,” says John Gedmark, CEO, Astranis. “Our MicroGEO satellites offer affordable, dedicated connectivity that can be built and deployed quickly. We are excited to kick off a long-term partnership with Anuvu, and believe that this model will help customers like Anuvu provide next-generation services all over the world.”
Astranis and Anuvu also highlight the ability to reprogram the satellites from the ground as demands change. While this software-defined satellite concept is relatively new to the market it is not at all exclusive to the MicroGEO constellation. Still, it should help improve the lifetime value of these satellites as they enter service.
Anuvu will begin with a pair of satellites from Astranis, slated for launch in 2023. The companies could add an additional six to the constellation based on today’s agreement. These will integrate with the existing GEO satellites and, eventually, with the Telesat LEO constellation, according to Marks. Exactly how that integration will work is a major open query, however.
The focus on MicroGEO satellites is not a new play for Anuvu.
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