Hedron plans to deploy its constellation of data-relay satellites in phases. The first satellites are scheduled to travel to low Earth orbit in late 2022. Credit: Hedron

SAN FRANCISCO – Hedron, the company formerly called Analytical Space, raised $17.8 million in a Series A funding round. With the infusion of cash, Hedron intends to roll out the first orbital plane of what it calls “the world’s first hybrid optical/RF data relay network.”

The funding round was led by Fine Structure Venture with participation by Lockheed Martin Ventures, Republic Labs, Lime Street, Explorer 1 and existing investors, including the Engine, Flybridge, Yard Ventures, NKM Capital and Space Angels.

“Since our founding, our goal at Hedron has been to provide low-latency access to space-borne data, paving the way for new sensor technologies and time-sensitive applications,” Dan Nevius, Hedron CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “Today, we are one step closer to reaching this goal. These additional resources will allow us to move even faster toward the deployment of our global data relay network, starting with our Network Operating Demonstration.”

Since the company was founded in 2016, Hedron has demonstrated its technology in orbit with two cubesats and conducted laboratory testing to ensure it can relay data acquired by remote sensing satellites.

In late 2022, Hedron plans to begin establishing the first plane of its constellation in low Earth orbit and to conduct beta testing with satellite operators. Initial satellites will be sent into a sun-synchronous orbit, crossing the equator at 10:30 am local time, Katherine Monson, Hedron chief commercial officer, told SpaceNews.

Because that orbit is popular for Earth-observation satellites, Hedron will have ample opportunity to test the firm’s software-defined radios, which are designed to ingest Earth-observation data in various radio frequencies.

Hedron’s goal is to establish a data-relay backbone with nodes in multiple orbital planes to provide customers with nearly constant connectivity between satellites and ground stations. Customer data will be routed to ground station providers and data customers through optical and RF beams.

“The availability of real-time space data will advance the art of the possible for customers and industry partners,” Chris Moran, Lockheed Martin Ventures vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “We invest in companies whose innovative technologies have the potential to benefit our core business and customers. Hedron’s planned data relay network, which has the ability to provide critical insights to users, meets this criteria.”

The U.S. Space Force awarded Hedron a $26.4 million contract earlier this year for an initial demonstration of the satellite network.

“We still are executing against the Space Force contract,” Monson, said. Series A funding combined with the Space Force contract value “will allow us to start to roll out that first orbital plane; to shift from working on proof of concept, idea validation and product-market fit to really turning the gas up on building the satellites, rolling them out and starting to build that initial backbone,” she added.

With the Series A announcement Analytical Space also changed its name to Hedron, short for polyhedron, a reference to the Company’s network topology and core optical communications technology design.

“We are excited to join Hedron as it strives to build a next-generation data network in space,” Jennifer Uhrig, Fine Structure Ventures’ senior managing director, said in a statement. “The demand for satellite-generated data is growing rapidly and Hedron’s vision and technology will address the need to reduce latency and cost.”

NASA is looking for commercial alternatives to the government-owned Tracking and Data Relay Satellites and associated ground stations. The Hedron Network will be well-suited for that task, according to the company’s Oct. 26 news release.

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...