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Astranis Wins US Space Force SBIR Contract to Implement Protected Tactical Waveform

By Rachel Jewett | February 14, 2023
The Astranis software-defined radio in testing. Photo: Astranis

The Astranis software-defined radio in testing. Photo: Astranis

The U.S. Space Force has awarded MicroGEO satellite company Astranis a contract worth up to $10.5 million to implement a government waveform into its payload. The deal could be a step toward Astranis becoming a new government prime contractor, CEO John Gedmark said. 

The Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award includes a $4.5 million award with a $6 million option for a future on-orbit demonstration. Under the contract, Astranis will implement the Protected Tactical Waveform into its existing software-defined radio satellite payload. PTW is a government waveform with more security than commercial waveforms and anti-jam capabilities. 

Astranis CEO John Gedmark announced the award Tuesday in a Medium post, reporting that Space Force Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein recently visited Astranis’ facility in San Francisco and the company was on contract just 46 days later. 

“This speed-to-contract speaks volumes to the U.S. Space Force’s improvements in their efforts to find ways to work with commercial companies like Astranis, and to their desire to drive towards the goal of resilience on orbit,” Gedmark wrote. 

This award follows after Astranis was named a vendor to compete for future efforts for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) last year, with the company exploring ways to support military communications.

Gedmark said he sees a future with dozens of Astranis satellites in GEO providing “resilient, high-throughput communications to the Department of Defense — a service that is more costly for our adversaries to deny than it is for our government to field.”

Astranis is awaiting the launch of its first MicroGEO satellite, which will launch alongside the first ViaSat-3 satellite. The satellite is for customer Pacific Dataport, which will use the satellite to provide broadband in Alaska. Last week, Viasat announced the launch window for the mission opens April 8.