Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Satellite Interference: A Growing Concern for Operators

Satellites rely on the radio frequency spectrum to communicate with each other and with ground stations on Earth. However, as more satellites are launched into orbit, the finite resource of the spectrum is becoming increasingly prone to interference. This has raised concerns among satellite operators who fear that the growing number of spacecraft using the same frequency bands will generate more signal interference.

To address this issue, operators usually coordinate with each other and enter into agreements to limit interference. However, coordinating between multiple satellite operators and tracking these agreements over time is a costly and time-intensive burden.

In the United States, spectrum allocation falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Satellite operators must obtain approval from the FCC in processing rounds, and once approved, they may have to coordinate with operators in previous rounds to demonstrate that their satellites will not generate interference.

Even after agreements are made, there is currently no effective way to ensure compliance with these agreements or monitor their output. This places a heavy workload on regulators and operators, who lack the proper tools for modeling, simulation, and tracking.

Magnestar, a software platform, aims to address these challenges. Their platform, called 24/7x, conducts interference simulations and runs calculations, such as signal-to-noise ratio, to ensure a clean RF environment. The technology is embedded in a “peer-to-peer” operator sandbox, enabling operators to communicate and exchange data in a standardized and autonomous manner. Magnestar’s technology can perform 10 times the number of simulations compared to existing technology.

The software also catalogues coordination agreements, helping companies manage and adhere to these agreements. Improved coordination could potentially enable operators to share spectrum dynamically and even sublease it in an exchange-type market.

Jacqueline Good, the founder and CEO of Magnestar, believes that improved coordination and adherence to agreements will be a game-changer for the industry. Good, who started the company in December 2021, has a background in data strategy and product management. She developed a passion for space and decided to build Magnestar to address the challenges of signal interference and coordination in the satellite industry.

Magnestar, currently employing five full-time and three part-time employees, raised a $1.1 million pre-seed round and is in the process of raising a full seed round. The company plans to start an early adopter program in February 2024 and aims to make 24/7x the industry standard for interference management.

As the number of satellites in space continues to grow, the issue of signal interference and collisions will become more significant. Magnestar aims to solve this problem by providing real-time management and deconflicting capabilities, positioning themselves as a key player in the industry’s future.