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Spaceflight Industries announced a partnership today with Spire Global to expand its network of ground stations for its Spaceflight Networks “cellphone network for space.” The company also announced partnerships with Tethers Unlimited, BitBeam and Syrlinks to produce spacecraft radios.

Spaceflight Networks' expected ground station coverage map for 2017
Spaceflight Networks’ expected ground station coverage map for 2017

Under the partnership with Spire, Spaceflight Networks will expand its ground communication services to a total of 45 stations by 2017, using the network of UHF and S-band ground stations in Spire’s network.

Spaceflight Networks already has ground stations in Seattle, Alaska and New Zealand, but the expanded network will allow for better access to its low-cost communications.

“We deployed our own network of ground stations because nothing like it existed when we began, and we knew that low-latency is essential to capture the real value from a constellation of small satellites — Spaceflight is now making that value readily accessible,” said Chris Wake, head of business operations for Spire.

The partnership with Tethers Unlimited, BitBeam and Syrlinks will help get satellites that use Spaceflight Networks’ technology in the air. The manufacturers will produce spacecraft radios that work with Spaceflight Networks’ ground stations out-of-the box.

Spaceflight Networks aims to standardized both the ground and spacecraft radios used for communication and the protocols for communicating with those radios.

Spaceflight Networks’ parent company, Spaceflight Industries, raised $19.2 million earlier this year to help launch small satellites into orbit. The company’s goal is to have satellites tag along with larger launches in a rideshare program. Future Spaceflight Networks satellites produced under the newly announced partnership could be future cargo under that program.

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