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Satellite and Space Projects News – April 2019



United Kingdom

Our recent digest of recent news in the satellite and space projects sector

OneWeb fundraising: OneWeb has secured US$1.25 billion in new capital in a fundraising round led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc and the Government of Rwanda. OneWeb's largest fundraising round to date follows the successful launch of the first six OneWeb satellites on 27 February 2019 from the Guiana Space Centre and the signing of its first two wholesale customers - teleport, satellite and network operator, Talia and Italian telecoms solutions provider, Intermatica. It has also been reported that Russian businesses have acquired a 51% share in a OneWeb Russian joint venture with a view to gaining access to the Russian market.

Es'hail 2 in operation: Qatar Satellite Company Es'hailSat has successfully put its Es'hail 2 satellite into commercial service. The satellite was built by Mitsubishi Electric Company and was launched in November 2018 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It will serve government, broadcast and telecoms sectors in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ofcom satellite filing charges: UK regulator Ofcom has announced the introduction of new satellite filing charges. The fees will apply to all new filing submissions and activities related to those filings received by Ofcom from 1 April 2019 onwards. Filings received on or before 31 March 2019 are unaffected.   In brief, Ofcom will charge (i) an upfront application fee for new submission requests; (ii) an annual management charge; and (iii) an application fee for notification requests. Full details are available in Ofcom's Statement: Satellite filings cost recovery.

Vega C: CDR Success: The European Space Agency has announced that the Vega-C launch system has passed its Critical Design Review stage. The programme will now move into the qualification phase to verify the design and manufacturing processes, assembly and flight hardware and software, and associated ground support systems. Vega C will have a higher payload capacity than current Vega vehicles (2,200 kg compared to 1,500kg to sun-synchronous Earth orbit at 700 km) with no increase in launch service and operating cost. The inaugural flight is planned in the first quarter of 2020.

Audacy and ICEYE: Start-up space communications provider Audacy and Earth observation company ICEYE have announced that they plan to work together to explore how Audacy's data relay network could enable ICEYE to receive continuous satellite communications for its constellation. Continuous communication could enable operators to send commands to their satellites anytime and so respond quickly to customer requests, rather than having to wait for the satellite to pass over a ground station.  

Inmarsat takeover: A consortium led by private equity investment firms Apax and Warburg Pincus is to buy UK satellite company, Inmarsat, at US$7.21 cash per share. It's been reported that Inmarsat will maintain its headquarters in London after the takeover. In July 2018, Inmarsat rejected a cash and shares offer from EchoStar at 532p per Inmarsat share.

Arab states collaborate on space: Eleven states have agreed to establish the Arab Group for Space Collaboration. The founding members are Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. The group's first project will be a UAE satellite called "813" with a target launch in 2022.

UK Spaceport: The UK and Scottish governments and South Ayrshire Council are to invest £80m in a programme of development at Prestwick Airport.   The programme will deliver an Aerospace and Space Innovation Centre – a purpose built 10,000 square foot multi-occupancy building that will serve as a central hub for aerospace and space businesses, industrial and commercial space accommodation including a training hangar and a further hangar within the Prestwick Aerospace and Space campus and a visitor/STEM engagement hub.

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