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Vikram Sarabhai Space Center’s 18-meter antenna, located near Bangalore, India, can be used for deep-space communications. (VSSC Photo)

Seattle-based RBC Signals has forged an agreement with Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, to widen its spectrum of communication services for spacecraft operators.

The partnership adds C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band communication capabilities to RBC Signals’ existing resources in the VHF, UHF, S, C and X radio bands. It also extends the company’s potential reach beyond Earth orbit to the moon and deep space.

The pact marks another first for the three-year-old startup. “It represents our first partnership with a national program,” RBC Signals co-founder and CEO Christopher Richins told GeekWire.

RBC Signals uses its own antennas as well as excess capacity from its partners’ ground stations to knit together a global communications network for its customers in the satellite industry, priced to fit a customized pay-as-you-go model.

Thanks to the Antrix deal, RBC Signals’ network currently comprises more than 60 antennas at more than 40 locations. The Indian ground stations include antennas in Hassan, Bangalore and Lucknow.

“At Antrix, we are excited about gaining greater utilization of our ground station investments through the innovative business model and services being provided by RBC Signals,” Shri Rakesh Sasibhushan, Antrix’s chairman and managing director, said today in a news release.

Richins echoed that sentiment in his comments to GeekWire.

“It demonstrates a general desire for these space assets, wherever they are, to be used more efficiently,” he said at last month’s NewSpace conference.

RBC Signals’ customers range from Sky and Space Global, which is setting up a 200-satellite communications constellation in low Earth orbit, to Astranis Space Technologies, which is planning to put miniaturized telecom satellites in geostationary orbit.

The company raised more than $1.5 million last year in a seed funding round led by Bee Partners, and has talked about conducting a follow-on Series A round this year. Richins said his company currently has fewer than 10 employees.

He emphasized that RBC Signals offers a range of service levels for satellite customers.

“A company can’t afford to pay for a gilded ‘failure is not an option’ service when they’re just testing,” Richins said. “But we have the ability to provide five 9’s of reliability when the customer needs it.”

Future offerings could include optical communication links as well as direct links between satellites.

“We’re not a ground station company,” Richins said. “We’re a space communications company.”

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