Our latest digest of recent news in the satellite and space projects sector.
UK Plans independent replacement for Galileo
After months of debate with the EU about UK access to the EU's Galileo satellite navigation system after Brexit, the UK government has taken a major step towards its own independent system. In an announcement on 29 August, the UK Space Agency confirmed that the UK government will fund a £92 million feasibility study to review the potential design and development of a new UK satellite navigation programme. The new system would be interoperable with GPS but would be intended as an alternative to Galileo. Funding for the study will come from the £3 billion Brexit readiness fund announced in last year's UK government budget. Further details of the announcement can be found here
New LeoSat investment: Hispasat's objectives
Following Spanish satellite operator Hispasat's strategic investment in new satellite operator, LeoSat, Hispasat CEO Carlos Espinós commented that he sees the investment as a key opportunity to open new markets and deliver business growth. He flagged that Hispasat's plans for growth involve increasing their capacity in orbit and that, besides the investment in LeoSat, Hispasat are also analysing other potential investments in GEO.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two sets new speed and altitude records
On its third powered test flight, SpaceShip Two set a new speed and altitude record. The engine burn was the longest to date during the SpaceShip Two test program and propelled the vehicle to a top speed of Mach 2.47 during ascent, Mach 1.7 during reentry and reached a peak altitude of 52 kilometres.
Space Systems/Loral and Maxar may cease GEO satellite manufacture and focus on small satellites
SS/L, now owned by Maxar Technology, is considering ceasing its geostationary satellite building business. Commentators suggest that this has been due to a shortage of contracts for large commercial satellites. Meantime, Maxar has announced a focus on small satellites: the new division is currently unnamed but will focus on satellites ranging from 100 to 500 kilograms.
Eutelsat replaces satellites with larger all-electric satellites
Eutelsat is set to replace its three HotBird satellites with two larger all-electric ones from Airbus. The new satellites are set to launch in 2021 and it is believed they will result in significant savings compared to the current trio. The all-electric satellites are still set to provide the same amount of Ku-band capacity along with other improvements such as better resistance to signal jamming.
India's government confirms no deadline in place for satellite switch
India's government has confirmed that it has not set any deadline on a switch by satellite broadcasters to India's own ISRO/Antrix satellites. It was claimed that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting was encouraging broadcasters to switch, but this has not been confirmed.
7,000 smallsats expected over the next decade
Consulting firm Euroconsult estimates that around 7,000 small satellites are due to be launched over the next 10 years. This would be 6 times greater than the 1,200 smallsats launched over the last decade. Many of these satellites will support broadband connectivity and provide services for the Internet of Things, machine to machine communications, earth observation and sensing. Around 80% of the total is expected to come from up to 50 constellations.
Eutelsat sells Es'hail 1 to Es'hailSat
French operator Eutelsat has sold its share of the Eutelsat 25B/Es'hail 1 satellite for 135 million euros. Launched in 2013 and operating at 25.5 degrees East, the satellite will now be known as Es'hail 1. Es'hailSat's second satellite, under manufacture by Mitsubishi Electric of Japan, is due for launch in the fourth quarter of 2018 on a Falcon 9 rocket.