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Astranis Lands Government Mission for Glitched Satellite Over Alaska 

By Rachel Jewett | August 25, 2023

      Rendering of an Astranis microGEO satellite. Photo: Astranis

      Astranis already has a new customer for a demonstration with its Arcturus satellite, which is in orbit over Alaska but unable to fulfill its primary mission

      Astranis announced Friday that it signed a contract with a “trusted partner of the national security space community” for an end-to-end communications demonstration with the microGEO satellite. Astranis said it will demonstrate secure uplink and downlink from San Francisco to Alaska, and back.

      The satellite was meant to provide broadband over Alaska to customer Pacific Dataport, and demonstrated connectivity in early tests. But there was an anomaly with the vendor-supplied solar array drive assembly, meaning the satellite cannot maintain full power to the payload at all times. 

      To serve the customer, Astranis unveiled a previously unannounced backup “UtilitySat” which is designed to operate anywhere in the world on multiple frequency bands. It is set to launch on the company’s next mission. 

      Astranis said it is planning to repurpose Arcturs for on-orbit technology demonstrations, and this demonstration is part of that. The operator said Friday that all of its own hardware on-board “continues to work perfectly.”

      “This on-orbit test was scoped and planned out extremely quickly — a vast improvement over legacy approaches that may have taken years to come together,” CEO John Gedmark said in the announcement. “This demo shows the growing agility to rapidly address national security needs with Astranis’s MicroGEO, and could lead to the procurement of multiple, dedicated satellite assets in the future.”