Significant infrastructure investments have always pushed the bounds of what we thought possible and yielded unimaginable economic activity. Railways expanded activities in North America westward, telephone networks connected communities across the country, and the Internet underpins much of the economy today. To push the space economy forward, we need to make investments in similar infrastructure outside of Earth in transportation, and communications. Our focus at Kepler is to solve the communications problem by bringing the Internet we enjoy on Earth to orbit, and that’s ÆTHER™.
Today, space objects in LEO are in communication with the Earth for only a 10-minute window during each roughly 90-minute orbit. Some can do better with more ground stations and other complex government systems, but that’s not the case for most things in orbit. Not to mention that most of those orbiting objects are unable to communicate with one another. ÆTHER provides a true Internet connection to anything on-orbit allowing users to connect with each other or the Earth in real-time.
Beyond the unimaginable economic benefit provided by the Internet, there’s also the practical aspect of space situational awareness. Activity in outer space is at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down, so we need to come together as a community to ensure space remains usable for all. With every satellite adopting ÆTHER, we as a community make huge strides towards this goal.
ÆTHER will contribute to space safety by creating an always available connection to space assets in LEO and beyond. This can improve operator-to-operator coordination, notification of conjunction events, availability of metadata for the astronomy community, and real-time tasking for the avoidance of space debris. A time will come when always available communication will be a requirement for anyone to responsibly launch new objects into space, and Kepler seeks to lead the way.
With a firm belief in the benefits that ÆTHER can provide, we’re also seeking to make the adoption process simplified for our existing and future neighbours in space. A key part of this is the licensing of the ÆTHER terminals that will be installed on customer spacecraft. Our recent regulatory filings with the ITU are a step towards this. Kepler’s two recent filings, ÆTHER-K and ÆTHER-C, cover the ‘Kepler’ and ‘Customer’ portions of the system respectively.
The Kepler portion of ÆTHER is the infrastructure, or Kepler’s constellation, and the Customer component represents the predominantly non-Kepler satellites that will have ÆTHER terminals installed. This simplifies the licensing process for users of ÆTHER, as they’ll be able to sign on to the ÆTHER network without needing to file for separate licenses. The hardware, service and licensing required comes from Kepler. This reduces the administration burden for users and regulators.
To be more specific – and to address concerns raised in some circles – Kepler’s recent filing of 114,852 represents the total of all ÆTHER customers, who will have connectivity to the Kepler network. These are not new Kepler satellites; these are satellites from new and existing customers. We believe that ÆTHER is innovative on a number of fronts, from the technology to the service to the ‘all in one’ approach of including the licensing aspects as part of the service. This innovation will increase connectivity for all who participate and increase the efficiency and safety of operations in space. It’s a bold mission, and we look forward to sharing our progress in the months ahead.
Written by Mina Mitry, CEO & Co-Founder