We continue to inform our readers about the private Russian astronautics. Earlier, we wrote about such companies as: CosmoCourse, Lin Industrial, SPUTNIX, Azmerit and Gaskol and also about the Mayak and Quazar Space projects. Today we will talk about another company — Yaliny. Ivan Ievlev, Yaliny partner, has answered our questions.
Yaliny is an international high-technology satellite communication company that seeks to build a global mobile service with unlimited calls and internet for ten dollars a month, with no roaming charges and other inconveniences!
— Good afternoon Ivan. Please tell us about yourself and your company. Who had the idea of creating Yaliny and how it was created?
— Hello Alexander. My name is Ivan Ievlev, I am a partner at Yaliny. Previously, I was engaged in various types of businesses on the internet, I will not dwell on this, I will better tell you the story of the creation of the company. The founder of the company is Vadim Teplyakov, a mathematician from Omsk. He had the idea of creating Yaliny three years ago. At some point in time, he realized that modern communication has a large number of shortcomings which can be seen in the presentation. These shortcomings include expensive roaming charges, limited coverage, inconvenient satellite communication and so on. He did spend some time to solve these problems and at that time he came across an article about the popularization of satellites in the CubeSat format.
Initially, his idea was to change the telecom market by launching a constellation of CubeSat satellites. At that time, he had limited understanding of space, what is the Van Allen belt and the like. This is why the idea has transformed since then. It should be noted that Vadim was previously engaged in IT-business. As the team started forming he got a better understanding of how the whole industry works and how satellites constellations work. Over time, all this was transformed into what we have now. You can see the characteristics of our satellites in the presentation.
— Were there any difficulties in the registration of the company? What is the relation with the state? Do you have any support? If yes, what kind of?
— Roscosmos officially declares that there is no private astronautics in Russia and it is both good and bad. We have good relations with the state. At the second attempt we became residents of Skolkovo, which allows us to receive tax benefits and discounts on patenting. More recently, they have stated that they are launching the Skolkovo center of orbital launches programme. This practically enables residents to launch CubeSats on favorable terms, which is very good. Skolkovo also gives grants and micro-grants. It turns out that Skolkovo works and that is a plus for us.
— If not a secret what is the structure of the company? Do you have many employees?
— At the moment we have about seventy employees; the whole team can be seen on the website. The majority of the company are engineers who work in the Russian division and are engaged in the development of technologies that are actually the essence of our achievements to this date. For a long time we have worked on the so-called flat structure, which is the most democratic and suitable for the employees to be able to create. There was no kind of a hierarchy, in fact, everything has remained the same. Our employees have a free schedule, they decide on their own when to come, when to leave. We try to get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy, which does not allow our employees to truly work, create and solve the tasks which face them. Actually, currently this approach bears fruit. At this moment, everything is being transformed a little bit, due to the fact that the company is growing relatively quickly and several subdivisions emerge as well as new directions of the company. But, in general, we try to be democratic, pro-Western, with cookies and good coffee :).
— How one can get a job at your company? What education is required?
— Our vacancies can be found here. We are actively employing, we need a fairly large number of specialists. One of the reasons that our research office is in Moscow is that it is a unique place where you can find people of different professions.
— On your website it is said that you are now in the testing stage. What is included in this stage?
— This stage includes the creation of prototypes and the demonstration of technologies. We must show that they have precisely those characteristics that we declare. As we develop a quite large number of different technologies, testing, therefore, is also different. If we, for example, are talking about one of our most important developments — active phased antenna array with a digital diagram formation, which will be the main board antenna on our satellites, in this case it will be tested in an anechoic chamber, demonstrating the radiation pattern and etc. Other tests are in the case of other equipment and it is a separate work.
— What difficulties emerged and continue to emerge in the work?
— We are working on a new technology which no one has done before. We are in a quite unique situation in Russia. The major difficulty lies in the fact that we are walking in a dark tunnel and we have to go in small steps in order to respond as soon as possible to the made mistakes and fix them. Add to that the standard difficulties that are usual to the space industry. In the first place, it is a relatively large amount of finance that is necessary for the creation of the constellation and space activity. Secondly, there are certain engineering difficulties, as in order to build satellites high qualified engineers are needed and that requires a constant search for talented guys. By the way, we have PhDs with decades of experience in the space industry, Candidates of Sciences. We are also consulted by academics, an alloy of the noble gray and youthful enthusiasm emerges. There are also certain regulatory complexities in order to carry out the functioning of the constellation: permissions of a quite large number of regulatory bodies are required — ITU, as an example, for the assignment of a frequency resource and so on. There are enough complexities and this is what gives piquancy and interest to our activities.
— What will be the speed of the internet? What will it depend on?
— The internet speed will depend on a quite large number of factors. This includes weather, cloudiness, the number of people in the area which is served by the satellites, and also the number of satellites which fly over your head and so on. But, respectively, we consider all these things during work. We are now planning to make two devices. The first will be called Yaliny Point — it will be a mobile solution the size of an iPhone 5 and it will ensure the speed up to two megabits per second. The second solution — Yaliny Router, it will resemble a standard router that is at your home and gives Wi-Fi. It will be slightly larger but according to our calculations it will have a speed of five megabits per second.
— How stable will be the signal? What can affect its quality?
— Since we are planning a great network capacity, signal quality will not be affected by such usual for the satellite industry things as bad weather or rain. For example, if you moved very far away from the window in a concrete building — that will affect the signal, the number of users in your zone will also have an effect. But in general the signal will be sufficiently stable.
— What is the coverage? 100 % is mentioned on your site (Antarctica, Mount Everest, the Atlantic Ocean, Chukotka, a village in Siberia).
— The coverage will indeed be 100 %; this is why the constellation concept was chosen, based on low-orbit satellites. If we did not want to cover the northern latitudes, it could be much easier to do a constellation based on geostationary satellites. It was initially decided to make the constellation truly global, especially taking into account the growing importance of the northern regions. And besides, you will have a great signal on the Mount Everest, as well as in the Antarctic, where nobody will disturb you from enjoying your internet since there are few people.
— In how many launches do you plan to put 140 satellites into orbit?
— Firstly, it depends on the carrier rocket on which we will launch our satellites. Secondly, it depends on the number of satellites in the final version of the concept, since we are not only working 140 satellites out in the constellation, but also 299 and 510 satellites. And these are questions that cannot be answered now.
When we planned 140 satellites it was a three-run and we wanted to launch them on the Falcon Heavy. The satellites are also equipped with engines with the necessary fuel reserve that will allow them to make the required ballistic maneuvers to enter the desired orbital position in the plane.
— How much time one satellite will operate? Is utilization of your satellites after the exploitation period provided?
— We plan to bring the operation time of a satellite to ten years. Utilization is provided — after the end of the exploitation period, the satellite will “leave” the orbit.
— Who are your main competitors and what are your advantages over them?
— Our direct or indirect competitors are OneWeb, Iridium NEXT, SpaceX and Samsung which have announced their constellation. Our advantages are based on the fact that we have developed a quite large number of technologies that allow us a fairly cheap infrastructure with a high-capacity network, and the third point — our solution is truly mobile. If you look at the SpaceX website, they say their device will be the size of a pizza box.
In fact, the satellite service of the new quality market is quite big. Our constellation is designed for 50 million people. And the current demand for internet and connection is much higher: 3 billion people without permanent quality access to the internet and 2 billion without access to voice communications.
— Zuckerberg promised to make free internet for all, what do you think about it?
— I am watching his activity on internet.org, if I am not mistaken, he stalled in India and that is a relatively large market. We will follow his performance. We wish him only success and hope that he will succeed.
— It looks like all cellular communication companies will be out of business.
— No, this is not quite true. In fact, mobile communication will be the primary means of communication for people who do no travel frequently or do not leave the mobile network coverage limits. Because the power in these networks in just crazy (let’s not forget about the upcoming 5G) and the service quality is much better than of the satellites that are far away from the planet’s surface.
The advantage of satellite solutions lies in the fact that we can give a comprehensive coverage of areas and at the same time get rid of roaming and other difficulties. In addition, there are regions where only satellite network is present, like oceans which cover a significant portion of the planet. In sum, the cellular network will have their client same as the satellite network will have theirs.
— The internet will work through an additional modem. If so, what is connected through, which port, where it takes energy, how long will it last, how much will such device cost?
— As I said before, we are considering two options — Yaliny Point and Yaliny Router. They will connect over Bluetooth, the battery will be enough for several days. But at the same time I would like to emphasize that we are flexible enough in this regard and the battery life of the device will depend on its size. We can make small chips and put them into cell phones — they will allow to send text messages and make emergency- / SOS-calls. Or we can make large devices and put them on ships, providing liners with satellite communication. Something in between can be put in cars. Everything depends on the state of the market by the launch time of our constellation. We will be able to more flexibly respond to its needs. The same is Internet of Things, which many talk about now: we can make many M2M devices, and because they do not load the overall network, their number can be counted in billions.
— Do you have investors? If not a secret, how did you promote (advertise) yourself?
— Yes, there are of course investors. We made an event in Moscow where we had a layout of our satellite, demonstrated the work of our technology; we created a sensation, but, in general, it did not avail any great action.
We actively participate in various space exhibitions. Including the largest: SATELLITE 2016 in the United States, IAC 2015 in Israel (in 2016 we will also participate in Guadalajara); we also participate in a large number of scientific conferences including IEEE and so on, where we presented these solutions that we create. This probably can also be attributed to a promotion method.
In the beginning there was the idea that we can use crowdfunding but it did not work out. Currently we do not conduct active promotional activities. In general, we reply to requests like yours, when journalists who prepare reports on the space industry or private astronautics, which is now a hot topic, come to us and we tell them about our project.
— What companies do you cooperate with? Only Russian or foreign? Perhaps, you adopt experience from someone?
— We work with Russian companies and currently formalize relations with foreign. We are actively cooperating and are friends with SPUTNIX, which launched the first Russian private satellite. They help us with a lot of things.
— Do you collaborate with institutions and universities? Perhaps, you give lectures or take interns?
— Yes, we are cooperating with institutions and universities. Firstly, university graduates allow us to cover the competencies that we need. If you go to our website, you will see that we are working with the Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, we are quite close with the Moscow Aviation Institute and several other research institutions.
As for lectures, yes, we do give them. For example, in the Bauman Moscow State Technical University and some others; we tell that there is an interesting work for those who want to be engaged in global projects. As a result, this helps us to find the most valuable employees — the best graduates, what is very important. Because, as it is known, employees are that what matters. Also, we actively cooperate with those who popularize space and are always happy to accept an invitation to speak.
— What are your plans for the future?
— Plans for the future are already known: in the near future we plan to launch several small satellites, then we want to run two full-sized satellites in which all our technologies will be tested altogether. And after that we will begin to scale our experience and prepare to the launch of the constellation of satellites.
Regarding other plans, as we validate our technologies we will enter into various partnerships with major space players, because our solutions are competitive.
At the same time, we are going to commercialize some of our technologies not only for space applications, since they are quite long-term oriented, but also for ground. For example, we are currently working so that on the base of our actively phased array we can develop a base station for the mobile operators that will allow them to significantly improve the infrastructure and to optimize the cost of its creation. That is, we are developing, roughly speaking, a base station that will replace the 5–10 conventional base stations and is also cheaper. Accordingly, companies can reduce costs both CAPEX and OPEX (note — capital and operational expenditures). We are now actively working on a prototype that will be completed in the summer and, accordingly, in the summer we plan to establish a pilot project. In fact, there are many plans and all of them are interesting and global.
— Maybe you would like to add something: life principles, ideas about the industry, work or something else?
— Big ideas attract interesting people, who in turn create interesting things. These are the things that energize, give meaning to the existence and help waking up in the morning.
If we talk about how interesting is that, what we do: in Russia all this is still in its infancy, everybody closely communicates with each other, helps with contacts and a relatively friendly atmosphere prevails; we constantly see each other on various types of conferences and it is very nice.