Satellite and Space Projects News - December 2017 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News - December 2017

John Worthy


United Kingdom

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

C-band proposal: Telesat is still considering its position on the joint proposal made by Intelsat and Intel to the FCC for the use of C-band spectrum for 5G terrestrial mobile services. Telesat has three satellites with C-band capacity with coverage over North America - - Anik F1R, F2 and F3 satellites. Under the proposal, satellite operators would be given incentives to clear spectrum in the 3700-4200 MHz band in urban areas for terrestrial use.  


Funding boost for UK launch plans: The UK Space Agency announced a £50 million programme, as part of the new Industrial Strategy, to enable new satellite launch services and low gravity spaceflights from UK spaceports will boost the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The £50 million programme, which builds on the £99 million already invested in the National Satellite Test Facility at Harwell, will help UK spaceports access a global market for launching small satellites worth £10 billion over 10 years, and offer low gravity flights to advance cutting-edge science.

UK satellite launches: The island of Unst in the Shetland Islands has been identified as an ideal location for vertical satellite launches in the UK, according to a Deimos Sceptre report. A newly formed company, Shetland Space Centre Ltd, is developing detailed proposals for a Shetland-based launch site for submission to the UK Space Agency.  The island is particularly suitable because of its isolated location and small population.  

OneWeb: The launch of the first ten satellites in OneWeb's 900-satellite constellation for global high-speed satellite-based internet services has been pushed back from March 2018 to May 2018. Greg Wyler gave the revised date in testimony to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology. The ten satellites have been manufactured at OneWeb's Toulouse facility.  Production of the remaining satellites will move to OneWeb's new Florida facility.

XCOR: Commercial spacecraft manufacturer, XCOR Aerospace, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on 8 November 2017.  XCOR was formed in 1999, developing rocket engines and more recently, its Lynx sub-orbital space craft.  The bankruptcy filing follows several months of financial uncertainty.  Development of the Lynx spacecraft was put on hold in May 2016.  XCOR was forced to reduce its workforce by half in May 2016 and laid off the rest of its workforce in June this year

Brexit: The uncertainty of the post-Brexit landscape continues to impact the space sector.  Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, Graham Turnock, confirmed that the UK wishes to remain a member of the European Space Agency after Brexit; but the outcome of the future trade deal between the UK and the EU27 will be critical.  In evidence to the UK government's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of ADS and Simon Henley, President-Elect of the Royal Aeronautical Society confirmed that Brexit uncertainty is leading to UK space businesses being excluded from bidding on the EU-funded Galileo project.

ViaSat and ESA: ViaSat announced a €68m Public Private Partnership (PPP) between its wholly owned subsidiary ViaSat Antenna Systems S.A. and the European Space Agency (ESA). The partnership is for the development of key components of an ultra-high capacity satellite platform, comprising three ViaSat-3 class satellites, each of which will offer over 1-Terabit per second of network capacity.

Spire Global and Luxembourg: The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) is investing in satellite data and analytics company Spire Global as part of Spire's $70 million Series C financing.   Spire, which already has offices in Glasgow, San Francisco, Boulder and Singapore, plans to open a new office in Luxembourg.  The country is pushing to become a European hub for the space industry and is one of the few countries to have introduced a space mining law. 

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