Freefall antenna

Freefall’s inflatable spherical antenna was taken to 159,000 feet by a giant NASA research balloon in August.

A venture-capital fund focused on University of Arizona technology has invested in Freefall Aerospace, a UA spinoff that has developed a new, steerable antenna for satellite and ground-based communications.

UA Venture Capital said it has acquired 20 percent in its fifth venture investment.

The fund doesn’t disclose the value of individual investments, but says its average investment has been about $2 million.

Freefall was founded by UA astronomy professor Chris Walker and NASA veteran Doug Stetson to advance antenna technology licensed from the UA.

The company’s antennas are compact, lightweight and require low power, enabling 360-degree steerable high-frequency communications with no moving parts.

In August, the company demonstrated its high-efficiency antennas for small satellites in a test flight from Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

UA Venture founder and CEO Fletcher McCusker said in announcing the investment that Freefall has the chance to transform the scale of antenna systems for modern communications, including satellite and emerging 5G cellular applications.

The fund’s first four investments were in UA tech spinoffs Codelucida, developing new technology for computer data storage; non-opioid painkiller developer Regulonix; online trucking platform Post.Bid.Ship.; and Qwick Inc., an online service to help hotels and restaurants quickly find temporary workers.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz

Senior reporter covering business and technology for the Arizona Daily Star/Tucson.com