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Satellite and Space Projects News | August 2021

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Review of the latest updates from the Satellite and Space sector.

New UK space laws enter into force: A package of UK laws came into force on 29 July 2021, paving the way for the first UK space launches.  The new laws establish a regulatory regime for spaceflight operations carried out in the UK and appoint the Civil Aviation Authority as the UK space regulator with responsibility for space safety and for licensing spaceflight activities, including orbital rocket launch and satellite operations. The first UK space launches are expected to take place from 2022.

Inmarsat reveals plans for LEO satellite network: Inmarsat has unveiled plans for a communication network that will combine Geostationary Equatorial Orbit (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial 5G in a single network. The new network – named ORCHESTRA – will also allow individual customer terminals to direct traffic to and from other customer terminals. Inmarsat's existing GEO satellites will continue to provide global coverage, high-performance, security and resilience. Terrestrial 5G will add capacity in busy hot spots such as ports, airports and sea canals, and a small constellation of LEO satellites will add capacity over further high-demand areas such as oceanic flight corridors.

Isar Aerospace raises US$75m:  German small launch vehicle company, Isar Aerospace, announced 28 July 2021 that it has raised US$75m through an extension of its Series B Funding. The extension round was led by HV Capital, Porsche Automobile Holding SE and Lombard Odier.  Existing investors Earlybird Venture Capital, Lakestar, Vsquared Ventures, Apeiron Investment Group, and UVC Partners also participated, bringing the total raised by the company to date to over US$180m.

Ofcom consults on new NGSO licensing:  UK regulator Ofcom has issued a consultation on proposed changes to spectrum licensing to manage the risk of harmful radio interference between non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems. Interference can occur when one operator's NGSO satellites enter the same area of sky as another's, leading to disruption to user services.  Ofcom's proposals will affect operators such as Amazon, OneWeb and Starlink. The proposals include new checks on NGSO licence applications, greater visibility of applications, measures to address harmful interference and checks to mitigate the risks of incumbent systems adversely affecting later ones. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 20 September 2021. 

Bharti and Hanwha bring new investment to OneWeb: Bharti Global has increased its stake in Low Earth Orbit satellite communications company OneWeb with a cash injection of US$500 million. In the latest announcement on 12 August, South Korean Hanwha Systems has also committed investment of US$300 million to OneWeb. This latest funding brings total equity investment in OneWeb since 2020 to US$2.7billion, with a margin above and beyond the OneWeb target of US$2.4 billion for full funding.

Eutelsat Quantum launches from French Guiana: The first of a new generation of satellites that can be fully re-configured in orbit was successfully launched from French Guiana on 30 July 2021. Eutelsat's Quantum was built by Airbus Defence and Space and SSTL with support from the European Space Agency, who provided £65m of funding. Quantum's coverage, frequency and power can all be reconfigured in-orbit, and dynamic beam-shaping and vessel-tracking capabilities enable it to provide services to moving vehicles such as planes and ships. 

Seraphim Capital completes £180m listing on London Stock Exchange: UK space investment fund, Seraphim Capital Investment Trust, started trading on the London Stock Exchange on 14 July 2021. The company is the world's first listed space tech fund and raised approximately £180 million in the IPO. 

US in talks with UK over deep space surveillance: The United States Space Force and the UK government are discussing possible plans for a network of sensors, hosted in the UK, to track objects in deep space. The US government is seeking up to three sites around the world to host parts of the proposed Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC). DARC will be able to detect objects 22,000 miles above Earth, such as satellites, space debris and other potential threats to space assets. 

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