The humble satellite dish that has helped humanity's ventures into space is in for a shake-up, and it is landing in the form of Sydney-based Quasar Satellite Technologies, whose multi-beam laser technology developed by the CSIRO can fit in an array that's the size of a coffee table.
Quasar's growth pipeline was illuminated last month by securing a breakthrough $5.3 million contract for the Defence Innovation Hub, and now its proposition to roll out more compact ground station communications hardware and services has been given a further boost of $6 million in a pre-Series A raise.
This adds to $12 million in funding secured in May 2021 when Quasar was launched with backing from CSIRO innovation fund Main Sequence Ventures, Vocus, Saber Astronautics, Fleet Space Technologies and Clearbox Systems, as well as the NSW Chief Scientist's Physical Science Fund.
The latest raise was led by Main Sequence - which has been very active in deep-tech in recent months supporting the likes of Quantum Brilliance, Q-CTRL, and Advanced Navigation - with PAN Group also coming into the fold as well as Marc and Lindy De Stoop of Climatech Group. Both PAN and Main Sequence are backers of semi-conductor developer Morse Micro.
Unlike other phased arrays that have two to three beams and are linked to specific makes of satellites, Quasar's can have up to 100 beams that can scan the whole sky simultaneously without the need to be tied to any particular brand of satellite.
Main Sequence Ventures partner Martin Duursma says Quasar's technology, which is out to replace the standard parabolic satellite dishes, will "likely touch every human on Earth".
"Quasar’s outstanding team is building the next generation of satellite communications technology which will place Australia firmly at the vanguard of the world’s space and communications industries," Duursma explains.
"Quasar’s solution will likely touch every human on Earth as internet including streaming services, iOT (internet of things), earth imagery and sensor data is beamed from satellites to earth. Helping Australia’s Defence industry gain ‘the ultimate high ground’ doesn’t hurt either."
The company, only founded in 2021, will use the pre-Series A funds to expediate its Defence contract, and maintain its pace developing more efficient and powerful phased arrays in multiple RF (radio frequency) bands.
Quasar aims to grow its ground segment with arrays to serve the swelling numbers of satellites which all need to ‘speak to Earth’. The company has received keen interest from the largest players in the world’s ground segment and is working to capitalise on that interest this year. The team is currently at 14 and will grow to 24 by this year’s end including operational capacity.
Quasar founder and CEO Phil Ridley, a telecommunications veteran behind some of Australia’s pioneering internet services like BigPond and Vividwireless, says the company's true multi-beam Generation 1 digital phased array technology will be launched later this year.
"Our world-first technology was born from the CSIRO’s radio-astronomy division and this foundation technology will help us change space communications forever," he says.
"As satellites continue to launch – there will be around 50,000 in a decade’s time – earth just doesn’t have enough of right ‘real-estate’, and ground station companies enough CAPEX (capital expenditure) and OPEX (operational expenditure), to speak to this many satellites efficiently.
"Our array – roughly the size of a coffee table - can replace up 35-plus parabolic dishes and run them for a fraction of the cost. We and are committed to growing a large Australian company serving the global space industry."
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