Former OneWeb Satellites CEO joins Akash Systems

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WASHINGTON — Former OneWeb executive Brian Holz, has joined Akash  Systems as chief architect to help the San Francisco startup create communications systems for small satellites.

Akash raised $3.1 million in January to build cubesats with diamond-infused components. The company makes satellite amplifiers with patented integrated circuits that use gallium nitride on a synthetic diamond substrate. The use of diamond as a conductor draws heat away from more sensitive parts of spacecraft, making them operate more efficiently, according to Akash.

Holz, after six years at medium-Earth-orbit operator O3b Networks, worked at LEO startup OneWeb for two years and satellite manufacturer OneWeb Satellites for a year and a half before leaving last year, according to LinkedIn.

“Today the satellite industry is massively hindered by bandwidth constraints and Akash’s components will be game-changing for the entire industry,” Delian Asparouhov of Khosla Ventures, the investor firm that led Akash’s January seed round, said in a statement. “Brian is a key component of helping us transform communications in space.”

Akash applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in July for approval to operate a 12U cubesat from low Earth orbit in late 2019 into early 2020. The purpose of the demonstration is to test an Akash-built Ka-band transmitter with a ground station in Australia operated by Swedish Space Corp.

The satellite will use a software-defined radio from Blue Canyon Technologies for S-band telemetry with a KSAT ground station in Svalbard, Norway. Akash intends to operate the satellite for six months in a 500-kilometer orbit.