Astranis experiences a malfunction 1 day before scheduled operation

On Thursday July 20, Astranis CEO John Gedmark announced that their first built micro-GEO satellite will not be able to provide broadband access over Alaska. This is shocking news as Astranis was on track to be the first company using microsatellites (400 kg) in GEO orbit providing broadband Internet access. Yet, just the day before scheduled service operations were set to begin, it was announced that due to solar panel malfunction, Astranis`s first satellite will not be operational.

According to John Gedmark, the satellite can only provide 12 hours of service which is not feasible for broadband internet access for global users around the world. Because the satellite can`t keep its solar panels pointed at the sun, there is not enough power storage capability on board for round o'clock operation. This means the batch of next 4 satellites will have to undergo an overhaul to fix the problem, further delaying scheduled launch and operations.

The interesting thing about this problem is the part that malfunctioned was one of the only parts not manufactured in-house. That is a big vulnerability when a component of the system from a different supplier is not properly integrated into the manufactured system. This makes this a cybersecurity problem as adversaries and future competitors can exploit this weakness. Having publicly announced vulnerability with solar panels, Astranis will now have a lot of ground to cover to get back the trust of their stakeholders, users and investors and become operational.