Satellite and Space Projects Briefing June 2023 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects Briefing June 2023

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Fieldfisher's Space Projects Group advises ICEYE on strategic deal with Bayanat for UAE space sector: The transaction will deliver a comprehensive space programme aimed at building national satellite remote sensing and Earth Observation (EO) capabilities within the UAE to address business opportunities in the local and global EO market. The programme also includes key participation from Yahsat, the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider.

Bayanat’s programme aims to develop a constellation of multiple synthetic aperture radar (SAR) low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide a consistent data stream for end-to-end solutions for SAR applications. For further details, please click here: Fieldfisher advises on pioneering space programme in UAE | Fieldfisher.

Ofcom proposes pioneering spectrum access for long range navigation systems: Ofcom is introducing a Spectrum Access eLoran license to allow the use of radio spectrum with frequencies of 90-110 kHz for enhanced Long-Range Navigation ('eLoran') systems. eLoran has evolved from the original PNT system (positioning, navigation and timing system) since World War II and this proposed development will allow businesses to have precise positioning information, increased navigation awareness globally and accurate timing. The proposal remains open for comment until 14 July 2023.

UK leads on space investment in Europe: The UK continues to grow its space sector and leads the way in space finance in Europe, with space investment accounting for 17% of the sector's global funding, second only to the US. The findings emerge from a recent report by PwC and the UK Space Agency "Expanding frontiers: the down to earth guide to investing in space". Craig Brown, investment director of UK Space Agency, commented that, building on the report's findings, the UK space sector is "is poised to grow at up to 11% per annum to 2030.”

Arqit plans sale of satellite division: Arqit has started the process of selling its space division, including a quantum encryption satellite (partially funded by the European Space Agency) and patents, IP and commercial contracts worth more than $65 million. Late last year Arqit decided to sell its partially built satellite in order to switch to a terrestrial method of distributing symmetric encrypted keys that resist attacks from quantum computers.

Satellite Vu raises $15.8 million for new constellation: UK growth company Satellite Vu raised this latest funding for its thermal-imaging satellite constellation in a Series A2 round led by Molten Ventures. Other existing investors also participated in this round, including Seraphim Space Investment Trust, A/O Proptech, Lockheed Martin, Ridgeline Ventures, Earth Sciences Foundation and Stellar Ventures. The funding comes prior to the company's launch of its first satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flight, providing an effective runway in the short-medium term.

UKSA creates £50 million government backed space fund: The UK Space Agency has created its first dedicated space infrastructure fund, named the Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund. The £50 million fund will aim to match funding to UK companies developing cutting edge R&D, to create or upgrade infrastructure and equipment of space products. The project will aim to support 5-10 projects with up to £10 million each, allocating the majority of its budget outside of the Greater South-East of the UK.

SaxaVord Spaceport secures £139 million debt funding: The SaxaVord team in the UK's Shetland Islands has secured £139 million as a debt facility to drive its spaceport project forward, according to CEO Frank Strang. £30 million has been spent facilitating the spaceport so far, with hopes to see a license granted for the Unst vertical spaceport from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in three months. The spaceport will also allow data to be downlinked from satellites, as well as providing accommodation and support services.

Virgin Orbit assets purchased by 3 key players: Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch, and Vast have secured winning bids for Virgin Orbit's ('VO') assets, including manufacturing facilities and its Boeing 747 aircraft. Rocket Lab offered $16.1 million for the lease on VO’s main production facility, machinery and equipment in California, with its HQ nearby. The company intends to use the facility to support development of its Neutron rocket. Vast bid $2.7 million for VO's lease on a test site, machinery and inventory in California – stating its plans to continue work on its E-2 rocket engine. Stratolaunch bid $17 million for VO's Boeing 747 and accompanying equipment. VO aims to cease operations after selling its assets, including the sale of two more segments.