MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — CesiumAstro won a NASA contract to design a space-qualified wideband active phased array terminal to communicate with commercial and government networks.

Under the $396,000 award, CesiumAstro will identify barriers, challenges and solutions for integrating the Ka-band terminal for satellites in low-Earth orbit with NASA’s Near Space Network.

“CesiumAstro is proud to support NASA’s efforts in fielding cost-effective, multi-constellation terminals,” Trey Pappas, CesiumAstro vice president of business development, told SpaceNews by email. “This opportunity will expand CesiumAstro’s current terminal development to fully support Near Space Network space relay frequencies, along with traditional commercial and military Ka-band.”

NASA is moving toward greater reliance on commercial satellite communications. In 2022, the space agency awarded Communications Services Project contracts with a combined value of $278.5 million to six companies to begin demonstrating how commercial providers could support missions that currently rely on NASA’s own Tracking and Data Relay Satellite constellation.

“CesiumAstro is honored to provide a commercially available product to advance reliable, secure and continual space communications for long-term operations,” said Shey Sabripour, CesiumAstro founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We’re proud to leverage CesiumAstro’s existing expertise in active phased array space communications and explore innovative wideband solutions that can help guide NASA toward the successful commercialization of the Near Space Network.”

In addition to supporting government missions, CesiumAstro sees commercial applications for its phased array wideband terminals. The NASA contract will cover the development of a wideband terminal engineering model and three or four flight models scheduled for delivery by late 2027.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...