Boeing [BA] on Monday said its venture arm HorizonX has made an investment in BridgeSat Inc., a small company developing satellite ground stations based on optical technology for secure, cost-effective transmission of large amounts of data between the stations and satellites.
Boeing led a $10 million Series B investment that also includes the venture capital firm Allied Minds, which is focused on commercializing intellectual property. Boeing didn’t disclose the amount of its investment. BridgeSat is a portfolio company of Allied Minds.
BridgeSat is based in Denver, Colo., and was founded in 2015 to focus on space-based optical communications. The company is developing a network of optical ground stations (OGS) for data transmission in support of low Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary optical communications, and will “enable secure transmissions between satellites, other spacecraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and high-altitude aircraft,” Boeing said.
Boeing also said the investment will help accelerate the deployment of OGS services by connecting BridgeSat with its experts, testing bags and other resources.
Investments being made by HorizonX are providing Boeing with cutting edge capabilities in areas crucial to its customers and that it believes represent the technologies of the future.
“This partnership will help us continue to lead the digital transition in satellites with technology that provides next-generation capabilities for our customers,” Brian Schettler, managing director of HorizonX, said in a statement. “Enabling BridgeSat to scale their operations accelerates secure, reliable satellite communications around the world.”
A Boeing spokeswoman told Defense Daily that optical technology for satellite communications “is now at the state where it can be added to our suite of solutions to provide more diversity for our customers.” She highlighted that “Boeing does have best-in-class radio frequency capabilities” for satellite communications.
BridgeSat co-invented its optical communications technology with the non-profit company The Aerospace Corp. BridgeSat has also partnered with Draper Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to further develop the downlink system for the technology.
Earlier this year, BridgeSat opened its first Network Operations Center for free-space optical communications, the first such center in the world, according to the company.
Boeing HorizonX has previously invested in two space-related companies including Australia-based Myriota, which is developing technology for two-way direct communications between ground-based micro-transmitters and LEO nano-satellites for secure data transmission, and United Kingdom-based Reaction Engines, which is developing advanced propulsion systems for next-generation hypersonic flight and space access vehicles.