Satellite payload startup Cesium Astro raises $12.4 million from Airbus Ventures and others to build out-of-the-box communication systems for satellites and UAVs
Cesium Astro, a satellite payload startup building out-of-the-box communication systems for satellites, UAVs, launch vehicles, and other space or airborne platforms, has raised $12.4 million in a Series A round led by Airbus’ venture capital arm Airbus Ventures, with participation from Honeywell Ventures alongside Analog Devices Ventures, Franklin Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins and Lavrock Ventures.
CesiumAstro was founded in 2017, by Shey Sabripour, a veteran spacecraft design engineer, technology innovator and executive with 24 years of experience at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Cesium delivers highly reliable integrated communications systems for the satellite, UAV and other space and airborne markets. The company offers complete turn-key solutions, scalable for a full array of customers in the commercial, government and military sectors. Current clients include NASA, U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Department of the Navy, DARPA, Northrop Grumman and commercial clients building large scale small satellite constellations.
Built on a system of scalable and modular “LEGO®-like” software defined architecture, Cesium products turn digital bits into steerable, shapeable radio frequency beams and provide complete communications systems in an easily customizable plug and play kit. Cesium’s fully-integrated systems require only a single power cable and digital connection to make a high-speed communication link. The result is a low-cost, highly reliable, rugged and seamlessly-integrated communications system for satellites, UAVs, launch vehicles and other aerospace platforms.
“Secure, reliable and high-throughput software-defined data links are the backbone of next-generation space and airborne systems,” explains Shey Sabripour, Cesium Founder and CEO. “This Series A round – together with the tremendous support of our new partners – accelerates the way we bring state-of-the-art technology to the core of next generation aerospace communications. Our patent-pending hardware and software system architecture for the first time brings full-stack functionality of agile-beam communications payloads, at an order of magnitude lower cost.”
The Cesium components can be modified for any aerospace application and are platform agnostic. Built with commercial off-the-shelf technology, Cesium products combine traditional aerospace reliability with modern technology on an industrial scale. The plug-and-play communication systems bring phased array technology directly to system designers, replacing a major R&D effort with a single product that works right out of the box.
“Mega constellations of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are launching now, and the skies will soon be filled with thousands of high-tech spacecraft; Cesium’s unique abilities to intelligently optimize their power and bandwidth at low cost, literally steering significantly improved connectivity to where it’s critically needed, will accelerate the impact of these constellations’ systems,” said Thomas d’Halluin, Managing Partner, Airbus Ventures, Silicon Valley. “With their leap in improved performance and lower costs over applications ranging from global communications and tactical awareness to formation-flight small satellites in deep space, Cesium becomes a key partner for us at Airbus Ventures, accelerating humanity’s ascent of the vertical axis, from the ground to deep space.”
“Spectrum is a limited natural resource that must be better shared to enable the plethora of mobile devices that require wireless connectivity. Over the next ten years, market demand for spectrum will grow exponentially,” said Wen Hsieh, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins. “Cesium provides small form factor, smart antennas and phased arrays to dynamically re-use frequencies, enabling rapidly-scalable and customizable wireless platforms at high bandwidth and substantially lower cost.”
Cesium’s full-stack platforms cover highly diverse applications. With better, higher-speed connectivity enabled by Cesium, the commercial aircraft industry can offer significant productivity gains to every passenger and streamed entertainment to every seat. With a new age of high-resiliency, distributed space systems facilitated by Cesium’s platforms, government satellites can better improve international security. Decentralized remote sensing, imaging, and space-based edge computing are rapidly forming the next generation of data infrastructure, and all of these revolutions democratizing access to space are powered by Cesium’s intelligent phased array platform.