Ryan takes a field trip to San Francisco to visit the 120,000-square foot digs of Astranis. We talk about the satellite broadband unicorn’s upcoming plans for 2023, which include the launches of five (!) microGEO satellites: one on a Falcon Heavy rideshare, and four on a dedicated Falcon 9.
For his first Pathfinder podcast of 2023, Ryan took a field trip to San Francisco to visit the 120,000-square foot digs of Astranis.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Altek Space, a custom manufacturer of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites.
For the uninitiated, Astranis aims to build small, cost-effective GEO satellites that will beam targeted chunks of broadband service down to under- or unconnected parts of Earth.
The company got its start in 2016 and graduated from Y Combinator’s winter batch the very same year. Two years later, Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z) wrote its first check to a space startup when it led Astranis’s Series A. The space internet startup would later go on to raise $250M from the likes of BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, and Fidelity (i.e., blue-chip growth investors).
In the coming weeks, the satellite unicorn is preparing to launch its first MicroGEO satellite into a geostationary orbit roughly 22,000 miles above our head. That first MicroGEO bird will provide Alaskans with a significant connectivity boost.
The company has a lot more cooking, Astranis CEO and cofounder John Gedmark tells us on today’s episode.
Along with Arcturus, its Alaskan satellite, Astranis plans to launch four more on a Falcon 9 later this year. As we saw firsthand, Astranis is ramping up production and satellite testing at its sprawling facilities, which have housed World War II ship makers, Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, and now, software-defined satellite makers
During our Pathfinder recording, Gedmark also broke some news about a key executive that Astranis recently hired. Read on for more. What else did we discuss? The value of GEO vs. LEO, bringing connectivity to Machu Picchu, buying an entire Falcon 9 rocket, use cases for space-based internet, geopolitics…and plenty more. Before we let him go, John also shared his personal 2023 goal, an under-the-radar sci-fi rec, and a very fun fact with us.
1:10 – Guest intro
2:01 – Astranis HQ
4:58 – Vocab
7:52 – Why GEO?
13:01 – Applying to YC
17:31 – The best Demo Day story you’ll ever hear
21:43 – Tech stack
27:13 – Engineering tradeoffs
29:50 – Business model
35:48 – Launching with SpaceX
40:40 – A big new hire
46:52 – Threat surface in GEO
55:13 – Who is the competition?