Xenesis CEO Mark LaPenna answer questions at the Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University in Logan, Utah Aug. 8, 2018.

This article was corrected Sept. 6 at 1:36 pm Eastern time. Xen-Hub is not yet in production.

SAN FRANCISCO — Xenesis, a Chicago laser communications startup, announced an agreement Sept. 3 with Hartwell Capitol Consulting of Woodbridge, Virginia, to sell optical transceivers in key markets.

Under the four-year, $212.5 million deal, Hartwell Capitol will distribute Xen-Hub, Xenesis’ optical communications transceiver, in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel, India, Australia, Nigeria, Mexico, Singapore and Brazil.

Xenesis emerged from stealth mode in 2018 with plans to sell a small optical transceiver developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With the Xen-Hub transceiver, which weigh ten to 15 kilograms, customers will be able to transfer data at speeds greater than 10 gigabits per second from satellites in low Earth orbit to the ground, Mark LaPenna, Xenesis founder and chief executive, told SpaceNews.

Last year, Xenesis, Atlas Space Operations and Laser Light Communications formed the Empower Space Alliance to create a global optical data distribution service. They plan to operate 12 satellites in medium Earth orbit and 100 ground sites. Each ground site will have three optical telescopes connected to wide-gauge fiber, LaPenna said.

Washington-based Laser Light Communications plans to deploy a global optical hybrid communications network called HALO, which stands for High Articulation Laser Optics. Atlas of Traverse City, Michigan, sells satellite communications as a service.

Xen-Hub optical transceiver

Since the ground and space infrastructure is beginning to take shape, Xenesis joined forces with Hartwell Capitol to identify customers for its technology. “Xen-Hub is a highly scalable piece of componentry that increases the throughput of space-to-ground communications for satellite operators by a factor of five to ten times,” LaPenna said.

Xenesis also announced plans Aug. 8 to conduct a feasibility study for a space-based Global Optical Multi-layered Mesh Network System for the U.S. Air Force. Xenesis won the Phase One Small Business Innovative Research contract from AFWERX, the Air Force organization established in 2017 to spur innovation.

“We have identified multiple Department of Defense stakeholders, for a spaceflight demonstration, which will come with $1-$1 matching funds up to $1.5 million,” according to a post on the Xenesis website. “We have pending [Memorandums of Understanding] as an outcome to our study.”

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...