From cutting-edge communication networks in space to autonomous satellite refueling,  these breakthroughs are transforming the realms of space exploration and telecommunications.


Headquartered in Los Altos, California, Antaris, with a leadership team that includes former executives from the commercial Earth-imagery pioneers Planet aims to optimize satellite production by applying digital-twin techniques reminiscent of those used by companies like General Electric for jet engine design and maintenance. The potential benefits include reduced manufacturing costs, quicker time to launch, and enhanced post-launch reliability. Notably, Antaris claims that the Janus-1 Cubesat, launched in February, underwent only 10 months of design and development, costing 75% less than comparable satellite missions.

AST SpaceMobile

This Texas-based company from Midland is making strides in satellite technology by enabling satellites to relay not just messages, but also voice and broadband data to phones. The aim is to eliminate coverage gaps on wireless networks, and AST SpaceMobile stands out in this endeavor with a partnership with AT&T. The company is offering not only messaging capabilities, like T-Mobile, Apple, Qualcomm, and Lynk, but also voice and data services. AST successfully demonstrated these capabilities in 2023 with its BlueWalker 3 satellite, and it has announced a fundraising round to support the launch of its first five commercial satellites.

Orbit Fab

Addressing the complex challenge of in-space satellite refueling, the Colorado startup Orbit Fab is advancing toward commercial viability. Refueling existing satellites, not initially designed for in-space propellant replenishment, is a complex task. However, Orbit Fab received a significant endorsement last year through Defense Department contracts to demonstrate refueling in geosynchronous orbit, approximately 22,000 miles above Earth. The company aims to add its standardized refueling port to future military satellites.


A key player in satellite-linked phone messaging, San Diego-based Qualcomm is leveraging its chipset technology to provide backup messaging connectivity via satellite to Android devices. Qualcomm has a unique advantage with spectrum licenses already in use globally for phone communication and satellites already in orbit. Partnering with Iridium, Qualcomm aims to build on its satellite-phone experience, dating back to Iridium’s pioneering efforts in the 1990s.

Rocket Lab

Innovating in the realm of rocket launches, Rocket Lab has rapidly become the second most-frequent launch operator in the West after SpaceX. Despite a September second-stage failure of its Electron rocket, the company remains resilient. Rocket Lab’s Electron, known for its lightweight design, provides cost-effective access to space for small satellites and payloads that may be too small for other competing rockets. The company’s future plans include ongoing efforts to recover and reuse the Electron’s first stage and the development of the larger Neutron rocket, scheduled for launch from its Wallops Island, Va., facilities in 2024.Sincerely, Arch Town Labs