Mynaric, a German antenna manufacturer, introduced a modern optical satellite terminal on August 25 as part of its push into the laser communications industry in the United States. With customizable data rate speeds of 100 megabits for every second to 100 gigabits for each second, the CONDOR Mk3 antenna brings a smaller, lighter, as well as low-power alternative to Mynaric’s portfolio. Mk3 is expected to meet specifications for a maximum of 150 operational satellites that SDA (Space Development Agency) expects to acquire early next year, as per Mynaric.
Next week, SDA expects to launch a request for bids for Tranche 1, a fleet of low-Earth-orbit satellites. The constellation, which will include the Transport Layer of the data-relay satellites as well as a Tracking Layer of the sensor satellites to identify and track missiles, is expected to be awarded contracts in early 2022. Tranche 1 would follow Tranche 0’s 28 demo satellites, which York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin are developing for a late 2022 launch.
Meanwhile, Mynaric announced that a customer has already registered for Mk3. The unnamed customer has obtained 20-unit options starting in the 4th quarter of 2022. In an August 25 release, Mynaric chief commercial officer (CCO) Tina Ghataore said, “We are tremendously happy to have already acquired a lead customer before even officially launching our second-generation CONDOR terminal today.”
“The intention of the Space Development Agency to utilize the Transport Layer satellites to collect data directly in the space opens up entirely new channels for the commercial satellite operators.” Mynaric is pitching its goods for SDA as part of a larger expansion strategy in the United States. According to Ghataore, the firm has been listed on Frankfurt Stock Exchange but plans to trade shares in United States this year. On the margins of Space Symposium held in Colorado, Ghataore informed SpaceNews, “Our customers are here, so it just makes sense.” She cited German financial regulations as the reason for her refusal to divulge the fundraising efforts.
It comes after Mynaric established an office that deals with sales and regulations in Washington earlier this year. The company also maintains a site in Hawthorne, California, which is a mix of office space and an interoperability laboratory. “If laser com terminals get to be a commodity thing — and you do want numerous participants, it makes sense — then want to make absolutely sure they can connect with one another,” she noted. In addition, Mynaric has chosen to manufacture the modems that process data and operate its optical heads in U.S. rather than Germany.
“That’s a significant improvement from six months ago,” Ghataore remarked. This is due in part to demand from other government bodies in the country, as well as “opportunities that exist outside the people who are supporting the use of optical terminals now,” according to Ghataore.