New Satellites Boost Space Communications and Clear Space Debris

A satellite startup called E-Space is developing a mesh network of satellites in low Earth orbit to boost space communications and also help clean up space debris, according to a report by Forbes reveals.

The company announced plans Monday (March 21) to launch its first three test satellites later this year. If all goes according to plan, another test will follow, after which the company aims to move on to commercial deployment of its technology.

E-Space faces strong competition

In 2007, E-Space CEO Greg Wyler founded O3B Networks, which currently operates a constellation of 20 satellites and was acquired by Luxembourg telecommunications company SES in 2016. In 2012, Wyler founded OneWeb, the SpaceX competitor Starlink, which SpaceX will launch. into space after Russia pulled it off the launch pad following global sanctions imposed by the United States on its aerospace industry.

E-Space isn’t the only company looking to provide space communications. Rival SpaceX has been praised for its use of its Starlink satellite internet network to help people stay connected in war-torn Ukraine. The same Starlink network will soon be tested for space communication by the all-civilian Polaris Dawn Mission, set to launch later this year. Another company, Aquarian Space, aims to launch its first test network for high-speed internet on the Moon by 2024.

Personalized peer-to-peer networks in space

What sets E-Space apart from its competitors is its mission to “democratize space” via a peer-to-peer communication setup without gateways. This means that customers will be able to develop their own custom networks based on on the “zero trust” security topology. “Not only does it reduce the cost,” Wyler said Forbes. “It also increases security because it’s point-to-point.”

The company has contracted Rocket Lab to put its satellites into orbit in the second quarter of 2022 on one of its Electron rockets. In a statement on the E-Space website, Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck said “E-Space pursues a transformational idea to open up space to everyone, while putting sustainability first. Rocket Lab shares this mission to help society and businesses responsibly adopt space applications through innovation.”

The durability part comes from the fact that E-Space’s satellites are also designed to capture a specific amount of space junk in orbit. When they have captured this specific amount, they are programmed to de-orbit and burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.

Once E-Space’s test satellites are in orbit later this year, the company will test their communication performance as well as their maneuverability in space. Software updates will allow the control team to optimize performance during testing.

If E-Space’s tests are successful, the company could eventually launch satellites that help solve the ever-growing space debris problem rather than making the problem worse.

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