What Does WARPSPACE Do?

Warpspace Inc.
6 min readJan 22, 2021

Intro

We are going to publish articles from each members to spread the atmosphere of our team. The first entry is from Ms. Ido, in charge of BizDev!

What do we do?

Since a membership license to stay a villa was given to me (unexpectedly), I visited one day. While I was listening to the instruction about said license, the staff said, ‘’It is so much cold during the winter and there is nothing to do, so I do not recommend you to visit at this time”, at least five times.
However, I’ve decided to visit when the idea came up to my mind. Unplanned trip is Banzai! Adventure!!

Driving up for 2hours, we’ve arrived at “our villa”.
As we heard before, the location with an ocean view, the endless horizon as far as eye can see couldn’t be better. There is a garden covered with thick and lush grass with BBQ facility. Inversely to proportional to the darkness on the ground, the thousands of shining stars were seen and I was fascinated though, I quickly got back to the inside due to the temperature of minus 6 degrees Celsius and hard sea breeze.

Well,,, there is literally nothing to do. It was one night stay without meals and internet. The mobile Wi-Fi doesn’t work. I sat on the couch and started thinking, “What am I doing here?”.

Oops, too long introduction, sorry. Well, I got the time to think, the most luxurious things in this world and found, “What does WARPSPACE doー try ー by the way?”. Of course I can introduce my company when someone asks me, “what does your company do?”, but honestly, I don’t understand regarding technical things at all. Therefore, I was like, “I kind of get what we do”.

So, I reveal the project what WARPSPACE works on in order for me to be able to explain not like “Kind of…”, but with confident.
And I have to say something in advance, there is a still long way to go to improve our business and things are being brushed up everyday, but contents I’m writing here is based on the situation as of Dec/2020.

Well, What is satellite?

Excuse me from the beginning, I didn’t really know what satellite is.
I summarize such terms below to refer for those who understand like, “Satellite is something big and glitter, isn’t is?”, “Orbit is where satellites are orbiting, right?”.

【Satellite】 Among the artificial probes, something on orbit with mission or purpose are called satellite. The main purposes are, communication, military, broadband, observation etc. There are various sizes from 10cm to several tens of meters.
The satellite WARPSPACE develops is for communication purpose.
Following picture is our satellite.

【Ground Station】 Ground station is the ground facility to communicate with orbiting satellite. The bi-directional communication is possible between satellite and ground station. It receives the signals from satellite to take a control and get the situation of satellite. In addition, they put the command to the satellite via ground station.

【Satellite Constellation】 A group of satellites for a shared mission is called satellite constellation. The capability of one (small) satellite is limited and generally, the bigger satellite we develop, the more budget we need.
Then, this method is adopted not to operate a mission with single satellite, but combine satellites for cost down purpose. In short, it is similar to bucket relay.
The inter-satellite optical data relay system is consist of three relay satellites and thus it can be called constellation.

Conceptual image of our service

【Orbit】 The conceptual route which connects the paths that point P (Satellite) moves as a consequence of that gravity and centrifugal force of the planet worked.

【Earth Orbit】 If the gravity and centrifugal force from the Earth to point P balances, point P orbits around the Earth. There are a few points where balances, and the distance between satellite and Earth changes accordingly.
Relevant orbits to our project are two, one is Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the other is MEO (Medium Earth Orbit).

【Low Earth Orbit】 Since this is the nearest orbit from Earth, it is possible to launch satellites with less energy compared to higher altitude orbit. This orbit is good for remote sensing (observing Earth with satellite) to get high resolution data, but the communicable time with ground is limited because the satellite keeps moving from the view of one point on Earth, and the visible area is narrow. Since LEO has been used most, there are a lot of space debris.

【Medium Earth Orbit】 Not too near, but far from Earth, MEO has features between LEO and HEO (High Earth Orbit). The satellite on this orbit is seen as moving from view of one point on Earth. Since it is farther than LEO, is not cut out for remote sensing. But the visible area is wider than LEO and therefore it enables to build a constellation with less satellites effectively.

Then, What WARPSPACE Do?

WARPSPACE is a venture company based in Tsukuba city, Ibaraki Pref. The vision we have is, “Realize the inter-satellite optical data relay network with small satellites”, that’s it. That’s the reason why WARPSPACE exists and all members look at it.

“Hmm, well, what is the inter-satellite optical data relay network with small satellites?”

Yeah, I feel you. But simply speaking, “WARPSPACE will make possible to downlink the Earth observation data captured by LEO satellites, by deploying three satellites on MEO to relay said data to the ground at all times”. This is what it is!

There are two bottlenecks for the main methods to communicate between LEO satellite and ground. One is “inefficiency of communication with RF”.
The visible area of LEO satellite is limited and satellite orbits about 8km/sec (it can go around the Earth for 90mins!!). That means, the time to communicate between satellite and ground is few minutes of 90mins.
And of course, while satellite orbits above the ocean, it is not communicable. 70% of Earth interface is covered by ocean.

Another thing is long lead time. Of course the slowness of communication speed is problem, but this issue happens before launching satellite.

Satellite operators need to work on RF arrangement for satellite communication respectively to communicate between ground and in-orbit satellite. It takes a few months at least. If they try to get the permission of popular RF band, it sometimes takes a few years. Regardless the number of satellite will keep increasing, RF band for communication is limited. It’s just a matter of time when it depletes.

Said serious issues are regarded as a bottleneck which obstructs the growth of space industry. And thus, WARPSPACE tries to remove the bottleneck by building the data relay system.

Again, “WARPSPACE will make possible to downlink the Earth observation data captured by LEO satellites, by deploying three satellites on MEO to relay said data to the ground at all times”.

By deploying the three relay satellites on MEO in order to cover the whole LEO satellites, it enables LEO satellite operators to communicate with high speed link at all times and they are freed from the RF band coordination tasks.
The improvement of communication environment for LEO satellite directory connects to the development on Earth economy.

For example, the more frequently they could capture the image of Earth, the more data they could downlink to the ground. The more data they could get and downlink, the higher quality and more accurate data they could get.
If the Earth observation industry grows, then it will accelerate the downstream industry, and finally, the movement will spread to the various industry.

In this sense, we WARPSPACE believe that we could contribute to the Earth economy.

We could have made a progress towards our goal with support from a plenty of people in 2020. In the end, we appreciate the continuous support in 2021.

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Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.