Satellite and Space Projects News April 2022 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News April 2022

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Viasat and Inmarsat offer undertakings to UK government: Viasat and Inmarsat have made a number of commitments to the UK government in connection with Viasat's planned takeover of Inmarsat. They include promises to increase overall UK R&D spend by 30% and undertakings to create a UK R&D Centre of Excellence, to maintain core satellite, network and cybersecurity operational capabilities in the UK and to establish the combined company's global business headquarters in London.

UK government issues statement to UN Committee: On 31 March 2022, the UK government issued a statement to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), outlining the UK's approach to national space legislation. Measures to date include the introduction of the 2018 Space Industry Act, the appointment in 2021 of the Civil Aviation Authority as the UK's independent spaceflight regulator, the implementation of a national policy for registration of satellites and the government's recent call for evidence on liability and insurance matters.

Agreement reached on Sutherland Space Hub: Highland and Island Enterprises (HIE) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wildland Limited, the company owned by Anders Holch Povlsen, and its sister company, Braesgill, to limit the number of launches from the Sutherland Space Hub on the A' Mhòine Peninsula. HIE has agreed to restrict the number of spaceport launches to 12 per year until at least 2029. Wildland has agreed not to object to HIE planning applications or variations relating to the Space Hub site, provided they are for minor adjustments and would not increase infrastructure or launch activity at the site.

Virgin Orbit and Satellite Applications Catapult agree first UK satellite launch: Virgin Orbit and the Satellite Applications Catapult have announced an agreement to launch the Amber-1 satellite on Virgin's LauncherOne system from Space Cornwall later this year in what is expected to be the first orbital launch from a UK spaceport. Amber-1 is part of a partnership between the Satellite Applications Catapult and Horizon Technologies that will provide a network of 20 CubeSats delivering Maritime Domain Awareness data.

ITU refuses BIU extension: The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has refused a request from Luxembourg to extend the 12 May 2022 regulatory deadline to Bring Into Use frequencies and bands within the CleoSat satellite network. The Luxembourg government had found an undisclosed operator willing to Bring Into Use a sub-set of the CleoSat filing, with a launch window of October 2022 or January 2023, but the ITU was not willing to grant an extension.

BryceTech reports US$15B for space start-ups: In its latest update on investment in commercial space ventures, analytics and engineering business, BryceTech reports that space start-ups received over US$15 billion in financing during 2021, including significant amounts of capital from private investors, as well as funds from public markets and M&A.

Amazon signs contracts for Project Kuiper: Amazon has secured up to 83 launches from Arianespace, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance for its low Earth orbit satellite constellation, Project Kuiper, providing Amazon with capacity to launch the majority of the constellation's 3236 satellites. Project Kuiper will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved areas.

Acquisitions offer a solution to hiring challenges: According to's report on the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, acquisitions can provide a solution to hiring challenges and staff shortages in the space sector. A panel at the symposium on 4 April 2022 noted that the long lead times for obtaining security clearances for individual staff members can make businesses with teams of security-cleared engineers attractive targets for acquisition.