BEEAs Winners: Archangel Lightworks

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

A company that has carved out a niche in the aerospace sector is the winner of the Start-Up of the Year.

Category Sponsor: SolidWorks

Headline Sponsor: Distrupol

Judges' Comment: "Boldly ambitious, Archangel is developing a technologically challenging, but critical, form of advanced telecommunications"

Archangel Lightworks is a UK-based laser communications start-up with international ambitions to improve data and communications infrastructure for the aerospace sector. It builds products and services deploying laser (optical) communications for the aerospace sector. These products and services include space terminals that can be mounted on satellites, air terminals that are mounted on drones or other aircraft and ground communications terminals.

90% of the potential value from space imagery is wasted. Radio simply is too capacity constrained, slow, unsecure, and technically incompatible with the inevitable future. Laser uptake has been blocked by cloud, which we bypass.

Using hybrid architecture with enduring airborne relays, our technology provides reliable, secure, high rate, license-free and upgradeable communications.

Archangel Lightworks was spun out of Archangel Aerospace, a niche consultancy for High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) that facilitated the world-record flight campaigns of Zephyr 7. The company was established in 2017 by Dan and a team of industry veterans after identifying areas of opportunity to accelerate the delivery of impact based on exponentially advancing technologies and the insights they had into what they saw as inevitable future trends.

The company was established in 2017 by Dan Sola and a team of industry veterans after identifying areas of opportunity to accelerate the delivery of impact based on exponentially advancing technologies and the insights they had into what they saw as inevitable future trends; the widening gap between our ability to generate data and our ability to transport it; the old barriers falling away for new power systems in aerospace; the end of common encryption methods (and block chain) in a post-quantum world.

Archangel Lightworks was founded based on the key belief that all space application segments are better enabled by space-air-ground ('hybrid') architectures connected by laser. These segments will move to hybrid architectures for resilience, flexibility, performance and cost effectiveness. Connecting satellites via laser with high-altitude platforms (our specialty), drones and assets on the ground provides numerous new use cases.

Following early development and patent submissions, it secured the European Space Agency (ESA) HALO Gateway Project (€3.4m initial contract value). This project is incredibly exciting because it will connect space, air and ground assets with ultra-high bandwidth, secure and license-free communications. HALO stands for High-Altitude Laser to/from Orbit, and the end result will be a satellite launch with our technology onboard to prove the laser communication model from space to an enduring air platform operated by Archangel and finally to ground and our data distribution partners. Our HALO delivery has been met with ongoing praise from the European Space Agency, and the project is now through Manufacturing Readiness Review and progressing towards demonstration.

Archangel Lightworks was profitable in its first year. Since 2017, the number of employees has more than tripled, we have secured our intellectual property, won contracts with UK and overseas governments and won commercial contracts with big aerospace primes like Lockheed Martin and Airbus. This has enabled the company to bootstrap to seven-figure revenue in the last financial year (2019-20).

In June, the company won the Grand Prize at Space Florida's 2020 Aerospace Innovation Forum, the same week as SpaceX's historic launch from Florida of human astronauts bound for the International Space Station.


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