Reticulate Space President on Resiliency, ESAs & Aligning the Ground & Space Segment

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Reticulate Space President on Resiliency, ESAs & Aligning the Ground & Space Segment

Winston Churchill once said, “The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.”

It’s not surprising that that sentiment from one of the world’s most famous orators is one of David (D.B.) Horton’s favorite quotes.

As Chief Operating Officer of Reticulate Micro and President of Reticulate Space, D.B. brings to Reticulate over three decades of executive, product strategy and technology leadership at firms such as EMS Technologies Defense & Space (Honeywell), Panasonic Avionics Corp., TECOM Industries (Smiths PLC), NXTCOMM, Lockheed Martin and ALL.SPACE.

With a career-long passion to bring to market new antenna capabilities that click all the boxes of cost, agility and performance, D.B. is leading Reticulate Space’s formation and the launch of VALOR™, Reticulate’s new family of agile flat panel antennas that promise to transform connectivity in an ultra-low-power package that includes industry-leading post-quantum security.

Below, he shares what the SATCOM industry needs to get right to make the business case for electronically steerable antennas (ESAs), while sharing details on Reticulate’s disruptive new VALOR ESA product family.

Q. What attracted you to join Reticulate Micro and lead the company’s Space segment?

D.B.: When I met with Josh Cryer, our CEO, I was inspired by his vision and wanted to be part of this exciting journey. Josh is committed to shaking up the status quo of product innovation. He’s brought together a great team of industry veterans who have expertise in transport technologies across commercial and defense industries with a specialty in SATCOM to deliver disruptive capabilities.

We’re seeing massive growth in the number of new constellations, and intense demand for streaming content in war zones and in commercial environments, from oil and gas sites to cruise ships and airlines. Multi-orbit satellites and other space advances demand agility and flexibility – both of which form the hallmark of our solutions at Reticulate Space.

My many years in satellite communication have taught me that the ground segment has been misaligned to the space segment. Having an opportunity to develop and introduce disruptive ground segment terminal capabilities that exceed industry expectations in SWaP-C (size, weight, power and cost) was a powerful attraction.

Q. As a veteran of SATCOM solutions, who has also led your own antenna startup, what have been the biggest obstacles to date to bringing flat panel antenna technology to market?

Reticulate Micro team at SATELLITE 2024 (L to R): Dave Horton, Anne Wainscott-Sargent, Mark Steel, Thomas Larkin and Paul Scardino.

D.B.: While attending SATELLITE 2024, we saw many emerging terminal companies that had low Technical Readiness Levels (TRLs), with most never validating their designs but rushing to get their products to market. For these Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), it’s important to stay focused on bringing their products to completion with over-the-air testing and validation. Don’t fall into the trap that a satellite service operator (SSO) will sell thousands of terminals on your behalf. It won’t happen.

Conduct a rigid product development process, stay focused and test, test, test to prove to industry that your technology and product work and the customers will come. Pushing a ‘what-we-will-have-someday scenario’ and seeking Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) funding won’t work. You must prove it!

Q. What is most exciting about the VALOR product announcement? How are you approaching the flat panel antenna opportunity differently?

D.B.: We have conducted expansive research and evaluated numerous flat panel/ESA technologies and companies during our search for the disruptive technology we are now bringing to market. The great news is that we found it, with an ultra-low profile, ultra-low-power, modular and scalable design. We now are introducing our VALOR Ku-band GEO ESA with a Ku-band LEO (Low Earth Orbit) offering right on its heels.  The unique ultra-low power feature supports the development of Comms on-The-Walk (COTW) products, including SATCOM terminals designed into a warfighter’s backpack with an integrated solar array. That’s just an example of what is being developed as part of the VALOR family. If SWaP-C is a driver to making your decision on the right terminal, then we need to talk.

Also, like all Reticulate’s products, VALOR will have our VisionOS™ platform integrated into it, which ensures all our products are interoperable. VALOR also complements our VESPER™ terminal management platform, allowing you to manage a fleet of multi-orbit terminals from one dashboard, as well as our VAST™ video encoder that we intend to integrate into our terminal family. Underlying all our solutions is post-quantum encryption, a key discriminator of Reticulate.

Q. What verticals and use cases will be the first to benefit from the VALOR product family?

D.B.: Our current product roadmap will focus on Comms on the Move (COTM), Comms on the Pause (COTP) and Comms on the Walk (COTW). The VALOR Ku terminals are a perfect fit for these markets with scalability and performance that is exceptional for a small form factor.

With ultra-low power consumption, we are incorporating solar arrays for mobility applications. A backpackable terminal will soon be a reality. Using a modular architecture, we can transition from defense to adjacent markets in commercial connectivity with slight modifications to meet the right ratio for low noise on the receiver and satellite transmit power needs, or G/T and EIRP.

Aero connectivity is also on the horizon with the capability to provide a conformal design, and we are pleased to see so many customers keeping a close watch on the excitement of what Reticulate Micro is bringing to market.

Q. What kind of industry response are you seeing to Reticulate Space since the segment was announced?

D.B.: We were extremely excited to see the industry’s reaction to our ESA offering during SATELLITE 2024. Our team has industry credibility that many other organizations don’t have; we know the space and ground satellite ecosystem and what it takes to be successful. Our combined hundreds of years of experience has attracted customers and partners alike to Reticulate. Josh, Mark Steel, Paul Scardino and I have set an incredible foundation for success.

Q. What are your biggest priorities heading into the second half of 2024?

D.B.: We’re aggressively completing chamber, calibration and over-the-air testing with a strong focus on production readiness. We will conduct live demonstrations of our Ku terminal at SOF Week in Tampa this May over GEO satellites. We expect the second half of the year to be equally exciting by adding Ku LEO demonstrations and MIL-STD packaging needed to support our Special Operations and DoD (Department of Defense) customers.

Q. Any final message to the market?

D.B.:  It’s a phenomenal time to be part of an agile, innovative company like Reticulate. I’m proud of our organization and our team’s shared passion to listen to the needs of customers and deliver disruptive capabilities and solutions. As veterans, we’re committed to supporting the military. Our products deliver real-time intelligence, ensuring not only mission success, but also safeguarding the safety of our troops, so that our men and women in uniform get to return home.

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