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BridgeSat ground station
BridgeSat uses optical systems to send data to orbiting satellites. (BridgeSat / Boeing Illustration)

Boeing HorizonX Ventures is leading a $10 million investment round to boost BridgeSat, a Denver-based satellite communications company that aims to use laser technology for ground-to-space data connectivity.

Founded in 2015, BridgeSat is developing a network of optical ground stations and proprietary space terminals for use with satellites in low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit.  The technology enables secure, high-bandwidth data transmission between satellites, other spacecraft, drones and high-altitude aircraft.

In March, the company announced an agreement with NASA that could open the way for a commercial, laser-based communications system to be used on future space missions. The agreement calls for a ground station demonstration by the end of this year, with on-orbit testing to be completed by next May. BridgeSat is also providing laser terminals and data services for ICEYE’s commercial satellite radar constellation.

In a news release issued today, Boeing and BridgeSat said the new round of investment will accelerate progress on the network of optical ground stations.

“As we grow our OGS into a global network, this investment will help us meet the need for secure delivery of big data from LEO and GEO satellites at faster speeds, and a lower cost than traditional radio frequency solutions,” said BridgeSat CEO Barry Matsumori, a veteran of Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.

Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, said the deal should boost Boeing’s satellite business as well.

“This partnership will help us continue to lead the digital transition in satellites with technology that provides next-generation capabilities for our customers,” he said. “Enabling BridgeSat to scale their operations accelerates secure, reliable satellite communications around the world.”

Allied Minds, a Boston-based private investment firm that already had BridgeSat in its portfolio, participated with Boeing in the Series B round. Boeing didn’t report how much it was investing, but in a news release, Allied Minds said the round amounted to $10 million.

HorizonX is Boeing’s channel for investments in new technologies and outside ventures, aimed at supporting the company’s interests in aerospace, manufacturing and communications. The HorizonX venture capital arm works with other Boeing initiatives, such as the recently announced Boeing NeXt effort.

BridgeSat joins 15 other companies in the Boeing HorizonX Ventures portfolio:

  • Digital Alloys, focusing on metal additive manufacturing.
  • Matternet, specializing in urban drone delivery operations.
  • Kittyhawk, providing end-to-end software solutions for drone operations.
  • Agylstor, which offers ruggedized computational storage systems.
  • Morf3D, which uses 3-D printing to produce aerospace components.
  • Reaction Engines, a British venture focusing on hypersonic flight.
  • Myriota, an Australian venture focusing on satellite communication services for Internet of Things devices.
  • Fortem Technologies for drone radar navigation systems.
  • Cuberg for advanced batteries.
  • Gamma Alloys, for next-generation aluminum alloys.
  • Near Earth Autonomy for autonomous flight control systems.
  • C360 for augmented reality and virtual reality used in immersive videos.
  • Upskill for augmented-reality solutions for industrial settings.
  • SparkCognition for AI tools used with the Internet of Things.
  • Zunum Aero for hybrid-electric airplane propulsion.
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