Israel climbs aboard LEO satellite rush
July 8, 2019
By Chris Forrester
Israel’s space start-up NSL Comm, which has raised US$16 million since 2015, is seeking to launch a fleet of Low Orbiting satellites to beam broadcasts and broadband to consumers.
Its debut satellite NSL-Sat1 was launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket early on Friday morning.
The nano-satellite’s key special feature is that it has a novel expandable antenna. NSLComm features a fabric-like, flexible dish antennas that expand in space to offer high-throughput communications for small satellites at a claimed speed of up to 100 times faster than that of today’s best performing nanosatellites but is about 10 times cheaper, according to the company.
This technology permits antennas to be stowed compactly during launch and deploy in orbit, saving mass, volume and supporting structures. After deployment, the antenna’s FlexoSub subreflector compensates for any reflector shape imperfections and change ground patterns on the fly.
NSL already has an agreement in place with Amazon Web Services to supply connectivity.
NSLComm is headed by Raz Itzhaki, former manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ nanosatellite department and founder of the Israeli Nanosatellite Association. His company is part of the “NewSpace” industry that is leading the field of privately backed spaceflight. NSLComm’s investors include Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), OurCrowd, Cockpit Innovation and Liberty Technology Venture Capital. The company is also supported by the Israel Space Agency and Kodem Growth Partners in New York City.
NSL is looking to launch 30 satellites by 2021 and “hundreds” more by 2023.