SAN FRANCISCO – Audacy, a Silicon Valley startup developing a satellite data-relay constellation, is forming a network of companies to build compatible components, resell communications capacity and refer customers.
The Audacy Alliance unveiled Aug. 28 has five partners, including ÅAC Clyde, the company being formed by Sweden’s ÅAC Microtec and Scotland’s Clyde Space, and Fairfax, Virginia-based SpaceQuest, a satellite technology developer.
“The goal is to enable an ecosystem of open standards communications, like any WiFi network card in your laptop works with any internet service provider,” Ralph Ewig, Audacy chief executive, told SpaceNews. “We want to make it easy for people to get on our network but also to switch if they want. This is our first attempt at making that work.”
Audacy is offering companies three ways to join the Alliance. Companies can earn incentives and discounted services by referring customers. Firms can opt to resell capacity on Audacy’s network. Audacy also is providing engineering support for companies developing hardware compatible with Audacy’s data-relay service.
Although Audacy is developing its initial customer terminals, the firm is not focused on spaceflight hardware. “We didn’t want to be the only company developing this type of capability because the terminals are complex devices,” Ewig said. “We don’t have the resources to make them super fancy and very small, which is always the intent.”
Component manufacturers, for example, may build antennas to communicate with Audacy’s network. Other firms may build complete terminals. “We are talking to small satellite manufacturers to build Audacy into the satellite as the baseline. By flipping a switch you could use it, like XM [satellite] radio in your car,” Ewig said.
“Working together with Audacy will enable us to provide our customers greater services and mission value through the expansion of our spacecraft solutions portfolio,” Craig Clark, ÅAC Clyde founder and chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “Audacy’s innovative product allows for 100 percent connectivity to any [low Earth orbit] satellite and represents a huge improvement in the communications options available for our spacecraft.”
Dino Lorenzini, SpaceQuest chief executive, said, “Audacy provides continuous connectivity to our [low Earth orbit] satellites, which allows us to identify and address issues that may occur while our satellites are not within range of our ground stations.” In addition, by connecting through the Audacy network, SpaceQuest “avoids much of the costs and delays in obtaining the regulatory approvals needed to get our satellites into orbit,” Lorenzini said in a statement.
In June, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission granted Audacy a spectrum license. That license is essential to Audacy’s plan to send satellites into medium Earth orbit to begin providing communications services in 2020 for satellite, human spaceflight and launch vehicle operators including data downlink, continuous monitoring and command services.
Audacy began inviting partners to join its Alliance early this year. Five companies have joined and three more are in the process of joining, Ewig said. The firm is expanding the Alliance globally, he added.