Helical Communications Technology (HCT) recently achieved the status of “Flight Heritage Status” when their custom-built Quadrifilar Helical Antennas was launched as part of Hiber’s smallsat mission. The first two were launched into space at the end of 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India — few private companies have reached this milestone.
Founded in 2013 by Salvatore Bologna and Gregory O’Neill, HCT began researching and designing a unique omni-directional antenna for smallsats that capture a much larger footprint of geography and topography on the Earth. Within four years, HCT had developed a design that can be scaled depending on the customer’s requirements to have a wide range of circularly polarized antenna patterns.
Hiber, based in Amsterdam, contracted with HCT to send their smallsats on this mission with the objective to offer IoT connectivity to the 90 percent of the world that currently lacks access to a network. The company expects to launch multiple smallsats within the next year to keep up with customer demand.
HCT designed the custom-built “quadrifilar” helical antennas at their Rockledge-based operations and shipped them to the Netherlands, where Hiber is based. Hiber then shipped the smallsats to their launch destinations in California and India. In remote regions and developing countries worldwide, subscribers purchase a low-cost modem that is then integrated with existing connected technology devices and allows them to connect to Hiber’s IoT network. The goal is to have a constellation of dozens of satellites to enable customers to send SMS-sized messages in real time from IoT devices, such as sensors on fishing vessels or monitoring devices remote devices in locations such as Antarctica.
In 2017, HCT was selected for the NASA Technology Docking Program, a unique arrangement from the agreement between the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) and NASA that awards select companies the opportunity to work with a NASA subject matter expert to review any technology hurdle they may be encountering. Typically only five companies are selected each year. The EDC is the only EDO in the country that offers this service to their local companies.
HCT’s offices in Rockledge, Florida, also contain an anechoic chamber for testing radiation patterns without echo effects. Manufacturing is strictly completed locally in Brevard County Florida to maintain top quality and frequent inspections. The company has plans to ramp up production rapidly as customer orders increase. They expect a significant upsurge in sales due to market expansion over the next two years as their patented technology is unique, will be manufactured at a lower cost and can be custom built to scale locally depending on the application in any quantity.
Salvatore Bologna said this flight heritage milestone opens the company’s doors for more companies wishing to launch satellites into LEO in the future. The opportunity to offer daily internet access via modems located in remote regions of the world transmitted to Earth-bound, existing satellite stations is remarkable. HCT is proud to have been part of this much needed solution.”
Gregory O’Neill added that it t is an honor and privilege to work with a company such as Hiber, who possess strong business ethics. The company anticipates a long and successful relationship with them as they move forward to provide internet connectivity to millions of people who lack that ability in areas where cable connectivity is simply not a realistic option.