WASHINGTON — Danish startup Quadsat said March 15 it has raised 9 million euros ($9.6 million) to expand a business that uses drones as stand-ins for satellites to test and calibrate antennas on the ground.

The Series A round was led by British early-stage investor IQ Capital, Quadsat CEO Joakim Espeland said on the sidelines of the Satellite 2023 conference here.

IQ Capital is a new investor for Quadsat, which says its quadcopters fitted with custom radio-frequency (RF) payloads can verify ground segments more efficiently outside laboratory conditions.

Espeland said all the startup’s existing investors also participated in the latest funding round, including U.K.-based venture capital firm Seraphim Space, Danish state-backed fund Vækstfonden, and angel investors Torben Frigaard Rasmussen and Helge Munk.

Quadsat has now raised 12.5 million euros from venture capital since it was founded in 2017, or 16 million euros when including government grants.

The funds will help accelerate the production of the venture’s ready-to-fly antenna testing kits and enable them to cover different frequency bands.

Customers can independently use these kits today for antennas operating in X -and Ku-band; however, Ka-band and other frequencies currently require an onsite Quadsat engineer.

Quadsat is also seeking to expand its drone-based testing services to other ground-based RF systems, such as radars used on navy ships.

Navy ships today must sail to specific locations to test their RF systems and there is only a handful of these in the European region, Espeland said.

This can be “quite expensive if you’re Denmark and you have ships there or in Greenland,” he said, where there are no suitable sites.

“We’re offering a substitution model where we come to the ship instead of the ship coming” to a testing site. 

Quadsat has already tested its service with the Royal Danish Navy and hopes to expand to other countries in Europe and elsewhere. 

Satellite operators that have used Quadsat drones to test antennas include Eutelsat and SES in geostationary orbit (GEO) and OneWeb in low Earth orbit.

Earlier this month, an antenna verification framework used by GEO operators announced it would start accepting ground station measurements from drones, which Espeland said will help Quadsat expand its operations internationally.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...