The memorandum of understanding between Intelsat and Aalyria creates a framework for the two companies to deploy Aalyria’s technologies to orchestrate bi-directional optical ground and space connectivity at speeds of hundreds of gigabits per second. Credit: Aalyria

SAN FRANCISCO – Global satellite fleet operator Intelsat announced an agreement Sept. 12 with Aalyria Technologies to dramatically speed up satellite communications.

“How do you create the capacity and capability of subsea cables but put them in space?” Chris Taylor, Aalyria founder and CEO, asked at the World Satellite Business Week conference here. “Multi-terabit throughput from space is what we’re after. And Intelsat believes in it.”

As a first step, Intelsat and Aalyria plan to establish a bi-directional optical ground and space network in 2024 to transfer data at speeds of hundreds of gigabits per second. The network will rely on Tightbeam, Aalyria’s optical communications technology initially developed at Google parent company, Alphabet, and Spacetime, Aalyria network orchestration technology.

Future Space Economy

Accelerated data transfer is a key ingredient of the future space economy, Taylor told SpaceNews. “We can change the way data is moved on the planet, from the planet to the moon, to Mars and beyond.”

The memorandum of understanding signed Sept. 12 requires financial commitments from Intelsat and Aalyria in the optical communications technology.

“Aalyria’s groundbreaking technologies give us the opportunity to pursue highly secure connectivity at unprecedented speeds, opening up new frontiers in satellite communications,” Bruno Fromont, Intelsat chief technology officer, said in a statement. “The Intelsat-Aalyria collaboration will enable enhanced mobile broadband connections and represents another step forward towards our Next Generation Unifying Network vision enabled by software-defined networking, 5G and multi-orbit operations.”

Multi-Orbit Networks

Intelsat is known for operating a fleet of geostationary communications satellites. The McLean, Virginia-based company is considering expanding its constellation to medium Earth orbit.

“We look at multi-orbit as being key to the longterm value proposition we bring to our customer sets,” said Gregory Ewert, Intelsat vice president, business development.

In addition to working with Intelsat, Livermore, California-based Aalyria is demonstrating SpaceTime through the Defense Innovation Unit’s Hybrid Space Architecture. HSA is designed to link commercial and government satellites with global, high-speed, secure data connections.

Spacetime is a software platform to connect aircraft, ships and ground stations with satellites in various orbits. Aalyria also has Spacetime partnerships with Rivada Space Networks, Anduril, Leidos, and a Tightbeam partnership with the U.S. Navy.

New Partnership

Successful partnerships are based on relationships, science and a common vision for what’s possible, Taylor said.

“We won the lottery with Intelsat with regard to all of those,” Taylor said. “With them deciding what form they will take as a multi-satellite operator, it’s the perfect vehicle onto which we can attach our own capabilities to support their businesses and to develop our own.”

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...