The founder of CesiumAstro is closing in on decades-old visions


In the mid-nineties, while modeling satellites at Lockheed Martin, Shey Sabripour was first introduced to effective phased array antennas. During this time, the engineers spent 3 – 5 years designing a satellite for geostationary communications that charged millions of dollars to do a single task. If the mission was to transmit television programs to the United States of America, the fixed rays of the satellite provided coverage in the form of the U.S. map.

Much more mobile was the high-end tactical satellites with phased arrays which are active. To meet a new mission, controllers may electronically direct beams, change power levels to meet changing demand as well as even shift a satellite to a different location. ‘Why are we not constructing all communication satellites across active phased arrays, I wondered,’ Sabripour informed SpaceNews. “We can conveniently put loads of beams where the customers are. Only go ahead and adjust the beams as the business strategy alters.”

Sabripour saw the value of technology of the phased arrays decline in the next 25 years as well as the entrepreneurial space market blossom. He stated, “I just could not get this out of my mind.” Dramatic advances in semiconductor technologies have culminated in low-cost radiation-tolerant chips that have also decreased the price of active phased arrays that need significant numbers of amplifiers as well as beamformers. In the late 1990s, before the dot-com bubble exploded as well as low-Earth orbit telecommunications constellations such as Globalstar, Iridium and Teledesic failed, Sabripour was tried to form his venture. Sabripour stated, “I remained at Lockheed Martin.”

Sabripour stated, “If there ever was a period for this innovation, now it is.” “There is more demand for spectrum as well as the constellation of low Earth orbits requires phased array technologies.” In late November, in an investment round headed by Airbus Ventures as well as Kleiner Perkins, CesiumAstro secured $15 million.

To date, CesiumAstro has generated $29.2 million to set up its company to market phased-array communications as well as radiofrequency sensing payloads to commercial and government clients, like U.S. Marine, U.S. Agency for Missile Defense, NASA, Northrop Grumman, Defense Innovation Unit, Honeywell, Aerospace Corp, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Airbus. Sabripour said that one of the company’s foundations is having the full stack payload required. “We have a goal that works straight out of the box, in which a high bandwidth connection is all you really require to power your lasers.”