Israeli space-tech startup NSLComm is set to launch its first satellite into space, the company announced Wednesday. The nanosatellite, called NSLSat-1, has been successfully installed on the Soyuz launch vehicle at the Russian spaceport of Vostochny Cosmodrome, with takeoff set for 1:42 AM Eastern Time on Friday, the company said.
NSLSat-1 features fabric-like, flexible dish antennas that expand in space to offer high-throughput communications for small satellites at a speed of up to 100 times faster than that of today’s best performing nanosatellites, the company said in a statement. The company’s nanosatellites also offer substantial cost savings (around 10 times) for larger satellites, NSLComm added.
The technology allows antennas to be stowed during launch and deploy later while in orbit, saving mass, volume and supporting structures. After deployment, the antenna’s FlexoSub subreflector compensates for any reflector shape imperfections and change ground patterns on the fly. Ground operators are able to control the antennas from afar, enabling them to focus supply directly on specific areas where there is demand for increased satellite bandwidth.
NSLComm’s technology is “the only solution that can bring high-speed broadband connectivity to and from small terminals,” the statement said, allowing the satellites to be used for a variety of purposes, including agriculture, mining, oil and gas, shipping, and government. The technology can also support large quantities of data for internet and video at costs “that are significantly lower” than what is being offered by current satellite communication technology, the statement said.
NSLComm co-founder and CEO Raz Itzhaki said, “The launch of NSLSat-1 is a significant achievement for our company and what we believe to be a watershed moment for the entire satellite industry. Our technology represents one of the biggest leaps in satellite antenna performance-to-weight ratios and, with this launch, we are on a mission to prove that high-speed satellite communications can be done faster, cheaper and more effectively than it has been to date.”
NSLSat-1 will be tested with several “tier-one partners” in the automotive, telecom and travel industries upon its arrival in space. Such markets, alongside government and IoT, are worth an estimated annual $50 billion, according to NSLComm.
Several weeks ago, NSLComm signed an agreement with Amazon Web Services for the use of AWS Ground Station, a network of ground stations for satellites.
The company’s current customer base includes satellite and spacecraft developers and manufacturers, satellite owners, and service providers. NSLComm expects to launch 30 satellites by 2021 and hundreds by 2023, enabling its network to provide high-speed communications worldwide for its customers, the statement said.
The company has raised $9.5 million to date. Investors include Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), OurCrowd, El Al’s Cockpit Innovation unit, and Liberty Technology Venture Capital. The company is also supported by the Israel Space Agency and Kodem Growth Partners in New York City.
“JVP is proud to support groundbreaking entrepreneurs and to position the Israeli technology ecosystem as world class actors with disruptive offerings,” said Yoav Tzruya, General Partner at JVP. “NSLComm is changing the satellite communication market in a meaningful manner, providing two to three orders of magnitude improvement in cost per bandwidth, and unlocking a myriad number of new applications for several multi-billion dollar markets.”
“The Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science & Technology supports innovative startup companies with cutting edge technology in order to increase their competitive capacity and to expand the Israel space ecosystem,” said Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency.
OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said, “Space is indeed the new frontier for venture capital and NSLComm is leading the way towards nanosatellites that are smarter, more agile and more powerful than ever before. This company will link communities around the world in previously unconnected locations with high speed connectivity and things will never be the same again.”
[Sources: Globes, The Times of Israel, Calcalist, The Jerusalem Post, Israel21c]