Startup Aalyria demonstrates a “mixed” satellite communication system

Aalyria has demonstrated the operation of a satellite communication system created from the devices of different operators. This work was commissioned by the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, which wants to create a sustainable and independent system for exchanging information in space.

Робота системи Spacetime
The Spacetime system in operation. Source: Aalyria

“Mixed” satellite communication system

On 12 February, the US startup Aalyria announced that it had successfully tested a “mixed” network of satellites created from the vehicles of different operators currently in orbit. They were able to work as a single unit and provide high-quality space communications.

Aalyria has only recently spun off from its parent company, Google Alphabet, and still relies on the technology it received from the search giant. However, in all other respects, it is a completely independent company. They carry out their work under an agreement with the Pentagon’s Defence Innovation Unit. It is worth $8.7 million.

The test took place on 7 February at the National Research Laboratory in Washington. It was attended by more than 150 representatives of the US government and defense agencies, as well as ESA representatives.

Why is the US military interested in hybrid systems?

The system developed by Aalyria is only part of a complex multi-level satellite communications network being built by the Pentagon. It is designed to be absolutely invulnerable to hacking and the use of anti-satellite weapons, and at the same time easily accessible. In addition to the above company, Amazon Web Services, Kuiper Government Solutions, Microsoft Azure Space, SpiderOak Mission Systems, Anduril, Atlas Space Operations and Enveil also have agreements with the military.

Specifically, Aalyria’s task is to link various small satellite networks into one. At the same time, each of them has its own satellite design, protocols and ground terminals. However, all of them, according to the US military, should work together, providing communication regardless of what equipment users have.

The main element of the developed system is the Spacetime program, which is essentially a sophisticated router. During the test, it was able to connect 630 satellites from OneWeb, Viasat and Intelsat and create a network akin to Starlink network.

By the way, Elon Musk’s company did not take part in the tests and did not disclose where its antennas were pointed. Also, Aalyria has not yet been able to connect military satellites Wideband Global Satcom and Mobile User Objective System to their system. But in general, 4 terminals from different manufacturers located on both sides of the Atlantic were successfully able to establish communication with each other.

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