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Satellite and Space Projects News

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Fieldfisher advises Satellite Vu on world first thermal imaging satellite deal with SSTL: Fieldfisher's Satellite and Space Projects group has advised British scale-up Satellite Vu, an Earth observation company that offers the highest-resolution thermal imagery and insights, on its contract with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) to build its first satellite. The new satellite is due to be launched into low earth orbit in Q4 2022. The satellite will collect thermal data day and night of both the natural and the built environment at any location on the planet. Further details are available at: Fieldfisher guides Satellite Vu on deal with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. to build world’s first high resolution thermal imaging satellite | Fieldfisher.

New UK National Security and Investment Act comes into effect: the Act – the biggest shake-up of the UK’s national security investment regime for 20 years – came into force on 4 January 2022.   Certain acquisitions of, and investments in, companies and other entities undertaking specified activities in the UK in one or more 17 key sectors of the economy (which includes Satellite and Space Technology) now need to be notified to the Government before they can complete.  Notifiable transactions completed without approval will be void and of no legal effect.  For further details, please read the full insight Taking stock of the UK's new national security, and investment regime | Fieldfisher and view the Fieldfisher webinar – Part 1: GoToWebinar and Part 2: GoToWebinar

Copernicus goes ahead without agreement on UK funding: Following the failure of the EU and UK to reach agreement by 3 November 2021 on the UK's post-Brexit participation in the Copernicus program, ESA is considering its options to keep the planned six Copernicus missions on track, including extending the deadline for UK/EU agreement until Critical Design Review. 

Bankruptcy court approves Intelsat exit from Chapter 11: The US Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Virginia has approved a restructuring plan that should allow Intelsat to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2022. The plan aims to reduce Intelsat's debt by more than half, from approximately US$16 billion to US$7 billion.  Intelsat hopes to reduce its debt further when it receives US$4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments from the clearance of C-Band spectrum.

Orbex builds UK rocket launchpad: Small satellite launch services provider, Orbex, announced 9 December that it has started construction of its Launch Platform at a dedicated test site near Kinloss, Scotland. The Orbex LP1 platform will support testing of the company's Prime rocket and is designed to transport small satellites of up to 150kg to low Earth orbit. Orbex expects the platform to be operational in early 2022, allowing the company to prepare for full launches from Space Hub Sutherland. Construction of the Sutherland site is due to begin early 2022.

Europe evaluates innovative space broadband solutions: A consortium of 22 European companies, led by UNSEENLABS and EUROCONSULT, has won a six-month concept study for the European Commission on disruptive ideas for an innovative broadband constellation.  Under the study, the New Symphonie consortium will investigate and recommend the optimal infrastructure for secure connectivity using a European multi-orbit satellite system, designed with innovative technologies and an attractive business plan.

1700 satellites to be launched per year by 2030:  Euroconsult's latest report on Satellites to be Built & Launched  forecasts that by 2030, the average number of satellites launched per year will have reached 1700. This represents a four-fold increase from the last ten years. Euroconsult expects 58% of the 1700 satellites to be concentrated across five companies (OneWeb, Starlink, Gwo Wang, Kuiper and Lightspeed). However, due to economies of scale in satellite manufacturing and a strong decrease in launch prices, Euroconsult anticipates those companies will account for only 10% of satellite manufacturing and launch revenues.

Inmarsat testing UK satnav signal:  Inmarsat is working with Goonhilly Earth Station Limited and GMVNSL Limited on a European Space Agency test project, funded by the UK Space Agency, to deliver a UK-generated satellite navigation signal. Inmarsat will re-purpose a transponder from its Inmarsat-3 F5 satellite to provide an overlay signal to augment the United States GPS satellite navigation system, achieving accuracy to within a few centimetres. The project will allow stakeholders to assess potential operational uses, including safety-critical applications for aircraft and shipping navigation.