The U.S. military intends to analyze the performance of Isotropic Structures optical beam-forming receivers for transmission of communications via SES satellites in geosynchronous orbit and medium Earth orbit, under a deal of undefined value reported on September 24.
The deal went to SES Government Solutions of Reston, from America’s Air Force Research Lab, Virginia, an affiliate of Luxembourg-based fleet provider SES; and a U.K-based firm known as Isotropic Systems, with a U.S. business unit situated in Reston, Virginia.
The U.S. Army assessment is the first contract approval for Isotropic Systems in its engagement with SES State Solutions. The two companies are operating jointly to build communications terminals to connect government and commercial customers to SES O3b satellites and the next generation O3b mPower constellation of SES.
To communicate while on the move, the Army depends widely on gimballed parabolic receivers that cannot track satellites from low and mid-Earth orbits or cope with growing demands for high throughput, said Brian Billman, the Isotropic Systems’ Vice President for Product Management, to SpaceNews.
On the other hand, Isotropic Systems terminals are configured to link concurrently with many communication satellites and then shift to new satellites to boost data flow. “Our transmitter is built to connect to several satellites within the field of view,” said John Finney, founder and CEO of Isotropic Systems. “Customers desire the opportunity to channel the traffic over the least expensive or best-performance links.”
Army customers often pursue reliable communications, which Isotropic does by establishing multiple communications channels to avoid jamming or intrusion, Billman said. “Without disrupting the key communications channel, the terminal will use its 2nd or 3rd beam to begin mapping the sky in search of opportunity satellites,” Billman added.
The U.S. military, notably the Army and the Air Force, evaluates a range of commercial satellite communications systems through a Defense Experimentation scheme using the Commercial Space Internet (DEUCI).
The Army and Air Force are already examining the Isotropic Systems prototype transmitter as part of the initiative. In phase two of the trials expected to begin at the beginning of 2021, the Air Force and the Army intend to assess whether Isotropic Systems antennas can link concurrently to the SES geostationary satellite plus a medium-Earth orbit SES O3b satellite.
This year, Isotropic Systems shifted towards building facilities for state and defense clients, developed satellite constellation providers, telecommunications, business and maritime applications, and licensing technologies for aircraft stations. It appears like the pivot is paying off. In May, Isotropic signed a deal with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation to evaluate the viability of stations for the U.S. Navy vessels.