Quasar launches phased array satellite ground station

Space industry startup Quasar Satellite Technologies has raised $12 million to commercialise a breakthrough technology that allows ground stations to communicate with hundreds of satellites at once.

With ground stations typically talking to a single satellite, Quasar’s technology based on CSIRO’s phased array research will communicate with the thousands of nanosatellites now entering low earth orbit (LEO).

Launched today, Quasar is backed by $12 million raised from CSIRO, Main Sequence, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, and Australian companies Vocus, Saber Astronautics, Fleet Space Technologies, and Clearbox Systems.

Quasar CEO Phil Ridley is a telecommunications veteran behind some of Australia’s pioneering internet services like BigPond and Vividwireless.

He said the technology would enable new satellite-based business models and opportunities previously hindered by legacy ground station technology.

Ridley said: “Space is the highway of the stars, but current ground station technology is the equivalent of one-lane on-ramps.

“By making it possible to communicate with hundreds of satellites simultaneously, we’ll be able to ensure the thousands of satellites launching over the next decade have a way to call home efficiently.”

Over the next decade, more than 57,000 satellites will be launched worldwide to support a surge in demand for space-derived data, including the industrial internet of things.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said CSIRO had been a leader in radio astronomy and spacecraft communications for more than 60 years, supporting the Moon landing in 1969 to inventing phased-array feeds for radio telescopes.

Marshall said: “CSIRO’s technology breakthrough enabled the world to connect without wires using fast WiFi, and now our technology will help connect satellites using our breakthrough phased array technology.”

Quasar will offer the technology ‘as a service’, enabling commercial and public sector partners to access data from satellites in low, medium and geostationary orbit from anywhere in the world.

CEO of Fleet Space Technologies Flavia Tata Nardini said: “Fleet Space has been heavily investing in beamforming advancements for our nanosatellite.

“Having one beam-forming ground station simultaneously service multiple satellites will eliminate congestion in LEO, where there is a need to compete for a limited number of available ground stations globally.”

Picture: CSIRO

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