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Astranis reserves a satellite ride with SpaceX

Astranis satellite
An artist’s conception shows an Astranis satellite in geostationary orbit. (Astranis Illustration)

A California-based startup called Astranis Space Technologies has signed a deal with SpaceX for the launch of its first geostationary satellite, which is due to widen Alaska’s access to broadband internet service in 2021.

The deal calls for SpaceX to launch Astranis’ microsatellite as a secondary payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, during a launch window beginning in the last quarter of 2020, CEO and co-founder John Gedmark announced today in a Medium post. SpaceX confirmed the deal in an email pointing to the post.

“We’re excited about what this means for Alaska, one of the most rugged states in America, and by extension, one of the hardest to serve with broadband internet,” Gedmark said.

Satellite broadband internet promises to connect billions of people in the world who don’t currently have easy, cheap access to global networks.

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Astranis to provide satellite internet for Alaska

Astranis satellite
An artist’s conception shows an Astranis satellite in geostationary orbit. (Astranis Illustration)

Astranis Space Technologies says it has struck a deal with Alaska’s Pacific Dataport Inc. to provide America’s northernmost state with three times as much satellite data bandwidth as it has today, via its first satellite in geostationary orbit.

“It is a firm contract in the many tens of millions of dollars,” Astranis co-founder and CEO John Gedmark told GeekWire in advance of today’s announcement. It also arguably ranks as the biggest deal of its type for a satellite company as young as Astranis, which emerged from stealth mode less than a year ago.

Astranis put a small-scale test satellite into low Earth orbit last year, and plans to follow up with the launch of a 660-pound (300-kilogram), 3-foot-wide telecommunications satellite in the second half of next year. Gedmark said the satellite would be sent up as a secondary payload by a major launch provider, but declined to say which one.

“This is going to happen fast,” he said.

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Astranis unveils big plan for small internet satellites

Astranis satellite
An artist’s conception shows an Astranis satellite in geostationary orbit. (Astranis Illustration)

Astranis Space Technologies is taking the wraps off a plan to provide internet access to billions of people, using small-sized, low-cost satellites that are lofted into high-flying orbits.

The San Francisco-based venture emerged from stealth mode today and reported a $13.5 million Series A investment round, led by Andreessen Horowitz with additional participation by Y Combinator, Fifty Years, Refactor Capital and Indicator Fund.

The new investment brings Astranis’ total funding to $18 million. That may sound like a lot — until you consider that aerospace heavyweights such as SpaceX and OneWeb are spending billions of dollars pursuing the same goal.

The competition doesn’t faze Astranis CEO and co-founder John Gedmark, an aerospace engineer who previously served as executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

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