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Honeywell satellite communications partnership could lead to manufacturing facility in Arizona

Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona is in the running for a new manufacturing facility that will be developed as a result of a new satellite communications partnership between Honeywell International and Bay Area telecommunications company Skyloom Global.

The two companies entered a teaming agreement to produce optical terminals for high-capacity and high-data-rate internet connectivity, allowing laser-based communications between ground and space, spacecraft and spacecraft and spacecraft and aircraft.

By collaborating, the two companies would be able to more quickly design and manufacture the terminals for their commercial and military customers, according to Honeywell (Nasdaq: HON).

A spokesman for Honeywell Aerospace, which is based in Phoenix, confirmed that Arizona is in the running for a facility that would be jointly developed by the companies, but he said that the state is part of ongoing discussions with stakeholders in a few locations.

A timeframe has not been set for deciding on a site, but around midyear 2022 was most realistic for that, the spokesman said.

The technology is already under development at Honeywell’s Cambridge space facility in Ontario, Canada.

Key for military customers

The optical communications systems would be used alongside traditional radio frequency communications, using laser technology that brings the internet speeds of terrestrial fiber optics to space. Benefits of the technology include higher data rates; more capacity; greater security; and smaller, lighter and more affordable terminals, Honeywell said.

“Fast, reliable and uninterrupted communications are an absolute necessity — especially for our military customers,” Honeywell Aerospace’s senior director for defense and space Mark Covelli said in a statement. “Combining our optical and space manufacturing technologies with Skyloom’s extensive expertise in optical systems and solutions creates an industry-leading team that can deliver optical communications solutions to our customers at a scale and speed that has never been seen in the industry.”

Skyloom, which is based in Oakland, California, designs and builds the space-based equivalent of towers, fiber, routers and switches. The company’s co-founder and CEO Marcos Fransceschini described the partnership with Honeywell as a key step in Skyloom’s mission.

“Skyloom was founded with the mission to develop, deploy and operate one of the fundamental pieces of tomorrow’s digital infrastructure to provide data transport services on a planetary scale,” Franceschini said in a statement. “Our partnership with Honeywell will enable the next big step in global connectivity and pioneer an orbital infrastructure that will make us a true planetary society.”

Honeywell is one of Arizona’s largest employers, with nearly 6,000 employees in the state, according to Business Journal research. It is also the Phoenix metro’s second-largest manufacturer and the state’s second-largest defense contractor.

 


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