Audacy, a startup based in Mountain View, California, plans to send large satellites into medium Earth orbit to relay data between satellites, launch vehicles and human spaceflight missions and the ground. Credit: Audacy

SAN FRANCISCO – EOS Defense Systems USA, a subsidiary of Electro Optic Systems Holdings Ltd. of Australia, plans to establish a space-based communications relay network with Audacy’s spectrum license.

EOS Defense Systems plans to pay approximately $10 million Australian dollars (about $6.76 U.S. dollars) to acquire Audacy’s business, assets and license. The Huntsville, Alabama, firm has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take control of Audacy’s license to use portions of the microwave spectrum for communications with satellites, space vehicles and ground terminals. EOS Defense Systems also will file for review of the acquisition with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

“Following completion of this acquisition EOS will be able to build a satellite network that will provide a comprehensive, end-to-end communications and data transfer service to government and commercial customers globally through a new constellation of EOS satellites in mid-Earth orbit,” John Berry, chairman of EOS Defense Systems and former U.S. ambassador to Australia, said in a statement. “We are confident of achieving all mandatory milestones required by the spectrum licenses granted to Audacy Corporation including a requirement to build and launch satellites that will achieve a capability in space by June 2024.”

Silicon Valley startup Audacy, founded in 2015, obtained an FCC spectrum license in 2018. Audacy closed in 2019 after failing to obtain additional financing for its plan to establish a three-satellite relay network.

EOS Defense Systems focused until recently on establishing a U.S. production of its parent company’s remotely controlled weapon systems and products designed to counter pilotless aerial systems. In 2019, EOS Defense Systems began broadening its portfolio to add U.S. space, missile defense and space communications work.

EOS Holdings Ltd., a company listed on the Australian stock exchange, “has an established space communications business with advanced technologies for both microwave and optical communications,” according to a Jan. 27 news release. “In the long term, EOS expects most space communications to be implemented with optical communications – a technology that is not regulated or controlled because it cannot interfere with other users. However, 99% of all space communications presently employs microwave technology, with existing sunk costs using this technology of around $1 trillion.”

As a result, EOS Holdings Ltd. is opting to “enter the regulated microwave communications domain” by acquiring Audacy with the goal of deploying “its own microwave, optical and hybrid microwave-optical technologies,” the news release added.

In October 2019, EOS Holdings Ltd. acquired EM Solutions, an Australian firm focused on microwave satellite communications. That acquisition allows EOS Holdings Ltd. “to develop its own ground terminals for wideband communication,” through its EOS Communication Systems business unit, according to the news release. “A key factor in the profitability of the constellation will be the performance and cost-effectiveness of the multiple ground terminals required to be deployed and EM Solutions is a leader in this domain,” the news release added.

Ben Greene, chairman of EOS Holdings Ltd., said in a statement, “EOS has previously disclosed its intention to enter the space communications market, and the [Audacy] acquisition represents a logical next step towards that goal.”

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...