Basalt Tech - Autonomy in space, for every mission

Collaborating for the Cosmos: Basalt Tech’s Global Partnerships

What is Basalt Tech?

Basalt Tech, founded in 2023, is a spacecraft operating system (OS) company based in San Francisco. Specializing in creating software infrastructure for space missions, Basalt Tech is making waves in the aerospace industry with its flagship product, Dispatch. The company is the brainchild of Max Bhatti and Alex Choi, both seasoned engineers with a rich background in space systems engineering. With a modest team size of two, Basalt Tech is already showing significant promise, having received seed investment as part of the Y Combinator W24 batch.

Who are the Founders of Basalt Tech?

Maximillian Bhatti serves as the CEO and co-founder of Basalt Tech. His journey into the aerospace sector began at a young age when he was hired by his co-founder, Alex Choi, while still in high school. This early collaboration set the stage for their future endeavors, including stints at MIT AeroAstro and SpaceX. Max’s experience spans working on distributed space systems and contributing to the American moon landing project. His passion for the field is matched by his personal interests in hiking and collecting whiteboards.

Alex Choi, the COO and co-founder, has a robust background in aerospace engineering. Before starting Basalt Tech, Alex worked with the UK Ministry of Defense and led spacecraft missions at MIT AeroAstro. His expertise lies in embedded systems, radios, and distributed information systems. Alex’s multifaceted experience includes pursuing a master’s degree focused on engineering design with Indigenous communities. Outside of work, Alex enjoys cooking and playing video games.

What is Dispatch and How Does It Revolutionize Spacecraft Operations?

Dispatch is Basalt Tech's pioneering OS designed to unify and optimize satellite operations. It provides a common software infrastructure that allows various types of satellites to work together seamlessly. Dispatch offers several key functionalities:

  • Tasking: Enables imaging of geographic areas in visible, infrared, or radar spectrums.
  • Radio and Telecom: Manages in-orbit networks and signals intelligence collection.
  • Orbital Security: Monitors and inspects other space assets.

One of the standout features of Dispatch is its ability to integrate new or external software modules without requiring extensive rewrites for each satellite. This modularity and flexibility set Dispatch apart from existing solutions, which often involve highly customized, labor-intensive processes.

Why is There a Need for Dispatch?

The aerospace industry is on the cusp of significant expansion, with over 65,000 satellites licensed for launch by 2030, representing more than $100 billion in assets. Currently, the data pipeline from these satellites relies heavily on outdated methods, such as emails and spreadsheets. Dispatch aims to modernize this landscape by introducing autonomous operations for satellite fleets, making space missions more efficient and scalable.

Flight operations today still depend on manual processes and bespoke software solutions, which are not feasible for managing large, flexible satellite fleets. Basalt Tech addresses this gap by offering a universal, out-of-the-box solution that can be applied to any space asset, reducing the need for extensive in-house development or large operational teams.

What Progress Has Basalt Tech Made Recently?

Since its inception, Basalt Tech has made significant strides. A month after writing their first line of code, the team has initiated collaborations with some of the leading space systems institutions worldwide. Notable collaborations include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States: Basalt Tech has a presence in MIT AeroAstro’s Space Systems class and is integrating MIT’s flight operations applications into Dispatch.
  • University of Toronto, Canada: The team is working on reviving the HERON MkII on-orbit and collaborating on software stacks for the HERON and FINCH missions.
  • National University of Singapore, Singapore: Basalt Tech is involved in reviving the Galassia-2 on-orbit and supporting the STAR Centre’s missions and classes.
  • Aarhus University, Denmark: The company is collaborating on operations software integrations for the DISCO-2 and DISCO-3 missions.

These collaborations are not only pivotal for product development but also serve as a platform to gain flight heritage for Basalt, an essential step towards achieving product-market fit.

How Did the Founders Come Together?

The partnership between Max Bhatti and Alex Choi dates back to 2020 when Alex hired a 17-year-old Max to repair satellite radios in a makeshift lab behind a Los Angeles dentistry. Their collaboration proved fruitful, leading to the revival of MIT’s CubeSat program. This successful project laid the foundation for their future ventures, culminating in the establishment of Basalt Tech. Their close friendship and professional synergy have been instrumental in navigating the challenges of the aerospace industry.

What is the Vision for Basalt Tech?

Basalt Tech’s vision is to bring autonomy to space missions, enabling seamless and efficient satellite operations. By providing a universal OS like Dispatch, Basalt Tech aims to revolutionize how satellite fleets are managed, reducing reliance on manual processes and bespoke software solutions. This vision is grounded in their extensive experience and the strong academic and industry partnerships they have cultivated.

Why is Basalt Tech’s Work Important for the Future of Space Exploration?

The advancements Basalt Tech is making in spacecraft operating systems are crucial for the future of space exploration. As the number of satellites and the complexity of missions increase, there is a pressing need for efficient, scalable solutions. Dispatch addresses this need by offering a flexible, modular infrastructure that can be adapted to various mission requirements, paving the way for more innovative and effective space exploration strategies.

How Does Basalt Tech Plan to Scale Its Operations?

Scaling operations is a critical focus for Basalt Tech. Their strategy involves leveraging academic collaborations to refine their product and gain flight heritage. By working with leading universities and research institutions, Basalt Tech ensures that Dispatch meets the rigorous demands of space missions. Additionally, their involvement in Y Combinator provides valuable resources and mentorship to navigate the challenges of scaling a tech start-up.

What Sets Basalt Tech Apart from Other Aerospace Companies?

Several factors distinguish Basalt Tech from other aerospace companies:

  • Innovative Product: Dispatch is a groundbreaking OS that brings autonomy and interoperability to satellite fleets.
  • Experienced Founders: Max Bhatti and Alex Choi bring a wealth of experience from leading institutions like MIT, SpaceX, and the UK Ministry of Defense.
  • Strategic Collaborations: Partnerships with top universities and industry leaders provide a robust platform for product development and validation.
  • Focus on Autonomy: By addressing the need for autonomous satellite operations, Basalt Tech is positioning itself at the forefront of a significant industry shift.

What Lies Ahead for Basalt Tech?

The future looks promising for Basalt Tech as they continue to develop Dispatch and expand their collaborations. Their focus on creating a universal, autonomous OS for satellites aligns with the growing demand for scalable and efficient space operations. With ongoing technical development and strategic partnerships, Basalt Tech is well-positioned to play a pivotal role in the future of space exploration.