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



United Kingdom

EU Parliament approves IRIS 2 mega-constellation: On 14 February, 604 members of the European Parliament voted in favour of financing the IRIS 2 mega-constellation of low earth orbiting satellites. IRIS 2 will provide secure satellite communication for European military and government services. The project will bring together a fleet constellation of 450 low earth orbit satellites as well as some medium earth orbit and geostationary spacecraft.

Yahsat to expand remote sensing: Yahsat has entered into an MoU with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to collaborate on the commercialization of remote sensing data and earth observation images in the UAE for Yahsat’s commercial and government customers. The remote sensing data industry is estimated to be worth $100 million in the UAE and $400 million in the MENA region by 2027.

Ofcom gives MangataEdge satellite licence: Ofcom has approved a licence to allow MangataEdge to provide satellite based frequencies to fixed and mobile communications. Mangata Networks is creating a constellation in highly elliptical orbit (HEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) to optimize connectivity to micro data centres on earth. The project aims to launch in the Northern Hemisphere in 2025, ultimately growing to 791 satellites.

Omnispace and Ligado collaborate to provide direct-to-device services: Omnispace and Ligado Networks reached an agreement to combine satellite spectrum to provide direct-to-device services. The collaboration is deemed by the two entities as creating the largest block of satellite spectrum dedicated to meeting a global market need for text, voice and data capability.

Eutelsat's move to build OneWeb's Gen 2 constellation could push ahead this summer: Eutelsat is looking to secure its acquisition of OneWeb and launch RFPs for the creation of OneWeb's Gen 2 constellation. The request for bids is expected by this summer, with an estimated timeframe for general launch in 2025 and LEO in 2026. Benefits of Gen 2 constellations would include the ability to provide a faster service and allow for wider coverage. Eutelsat announced it is making good progress with regulatory approvals in US and France for the merger with OneWeb.

Babcock wins 6 year contract for Skynet: Babcock secured a 6 year contract with the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) to manage and operate its 'Skynet' satellite communications network. This is part of the MOD's Skynet 6 program, a £6 billion project creating 400 jobs in the UK, with Skynet 6a expected to be launched in 2025. This latest contract will support the ongoing operation of the current infrastructure.

Lockheed Martin creates plans to build first satellite factory in the UK: Lockheed Martin has begun sourcing potential suppliers in Newcastle to build a proposed satellite factory. Secure satellite and data transmission are expected to be a key feature supporting future warships and fighter jets used by the UK, with space in the British economy being worth £16.5bn and growing.

Viasat's purchase of Inmarsat provisionally cleared in UK anti-trust investigation: The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has come to a provisional finding that Viasat's merger with Inmarsat will not have an adverse effect on airlines and their UK customers. The CMA launched an in-depth investigation last year due to competition concerns, as the two companies were competing closely in the provision of on-board wifi services to airlines. The CMA pointed to the high number of competitors in the satellite sector and the rapid pace at which the sector is growing, both factors likely to lead to an increase in options for airline operators when choosing service providers. The provisional findings are subject to further consultation by the CMA.

Areas of Expertise

Technology and Data