Lockheed Martin partners with satellite start-up Omnispace to build a space-based 5G network

A rendering of Lockheed Martin’s 400 collection satellite buses, which vary from 400 kg to 800 kg in weight.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin‘s area division on Tuesday introduced a strategic curiosity settlement with satellite start-up Omnispace, “to explore jointly developing 5G capability from space.”

“This really stems from a common vision of a global 5G network, which enables users to seamlessly transition between the satellite [and the] terrestrial network,” Omnispace CEO Ram Viswanathan advised CNBC.

Viswanathan highlighted Lockheed Martin’s “depth of expertise” in a number of markets, most notably with a extensive swath of consumers from the Department of Defense.

“Their appetite never dulls and the kind of need they have for communications across the board,” Lockheed Martin Space govt vp Rick Ambrose advised CNBC. “Omnispace has a very powerful vision of how to offer the service … [and] how you get it down to a mobile device.”

Ambrose mentioned the 2 corporations have been interacting for about a 12 months. The strategic curiosity settlement additional cements the pair working towards a hybrid network that mixes the attain of a international satellite network, recognized within the business as a constellation, with the capability of cell wi-fi provider networks.

The partnership places the businesses within the widening discipline of space-based knowledge communications, with potential opponents together with Elon Musk’s SpaceX consumer-focused Starlink broadband service, satellite-to-smartphone specialist AST & Science, and the enterprise-focused networks of OneWeb and Telesat.

Viswanathan acknowledged the opposite gamers constructing low Earth orbit satellite communications constellations, however differentiated Omnispace as providing a “direct to device capability” — relatively than the “expensive and bulky” floor terminals which are required for customers to join to different space-based networks.

“We’re able to deliver the mobile communications capability to a standardized 5G base handset or terminal, and as you can imagine that starts to open up an array of applications,” Viswanathan mentioned.

Omnispace final month raised a contemporary spherical of enterprise capital, with buyers led by Fortress Investment Group placing in $60 million. The Virginia-based firm has raised $140 million to date since its founding in 2012, in accordance to Pitchbook. Ambrose mentioned its “too early to tell” whether or not Lockheed Martin will itself put money into Omnispace, however famous that the businesses will “be exploring multiple options” because the partnership expands.

The subsequent step for Omnispace will likely be to deploy a “proof concept” of its expertise in area. But whereas Omnispace just isn’t but completed with designing its full system, Viswanathan mentioned it should have a “dramatically lower cost than” different satellite communications constellations, which estimate anyplace from $5 billion to greater than $10 billion to totally deploy.

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