Satellite and Space Projects News - December 2019 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News - December 2019

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Our digest of recent news in the satellite and space projects sector. ITU milestones agreed for mega-constellations:  The ITU has reached agreement on a milestone-based approach for the deployment of NGSO systems (including mega-constellations) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).   Currently, when an operator is granted spectrum rights, it must, within 7 years, "bring-into-use" the allocated spectrum and keep using it for 90 days. From then on, the operator has exclusive use of that spectrum. Regulators are concerned that the current system is open to abuse because operators of large constellations can secure spectrum rights by deploying just one satellite early and then delaying further deployments.   Under the new regime, LEO NGSO systems will have to deploy 10% of their constellation within 2 years after the end of the current regulatory period for bringing into use, 50% within 5 years and 100% within 7 years.  If an operator fails to meet the deployment milestones, their spectrum rights will be reduced pro rata to the number of satellites launched before the milestone.

ESA approves €14.4 billion budget and commits to Space Safety: ESA's November ministerial council meeting, Space 19+, has approved the biggest ever ESA budget, committing €12.45 billion over the next three years, and €14.4 billion over the next five years.  The budget will allow ESA to fund all programmes put forward to the council.  Work will continue on the next generation of launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega-C, and ESA’s new reusable spaceship – Space Rider.  The council also adopted "Space Safety" as a new basic pillar of its activities and gave the green light to ClearSpace-1, the world's first space mission to remove an item of debris from orbit. Swiss startup ClearSpace will lead a consortium to retrieve the Vega Secondary Payload Adapter upper-stage left in orbit after a 2013 Vega launch. The UK has secured its continued significant involvement in ESA international space programmes by committing £374 million per year over the next five years.
Spaceport Cornwall funding:  The UK Space Agency has confirmed £7.35 million of funding to support Virgin Orbit's planned smallsat horizontal launch services at Spaceport Cornwall.   The Agency was able to confirm the award after completing due diligence and signing a grant agreement with Virgin Orbit UK Limited.  The funding will be used to develop advanced ground support equipment at Newquay Airport. 

Kepler and Cobham SATCOM:  Kepler Communications – a provider of nanosatellite telecoms solutions -  and Cobham SATCOM – a provider of radio and satellite communications solutions - have formed a strategic partnership to offer "User Terminal-as-a-Service".  The service, currently in trial-phase, will allow users to receive high capacity data services over Kepler's Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Network for a monthly operational fee and without upfront CAPEX spend.  

Viasat results:  Viasat has reported its financial results for the second quarter of the fiscal year 2020.  Revenues grew 14% in comparison to Q2 fiscal 2019, increasing from $517.5 million to a record $592.3 million, and generating net income of $3.2 million. Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for Q2 fiscal 2020 were $118.2 million, an increase of 53% year-over-year.

OneWeb's next funding round:  OneWeb intends to ask investors for $1bn, according to a report in the Telegraph.  It is expected that SoftBank will provide roughly half of that amount over a two-year period, with the balance expected to be raised through a combination of new equity and debt.

Eutelsat forecasts: reports that Eutelsat has confirmed to analysts its mid-term outlook for top-line growth.  Additional revenues are expected from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS) payload, from Eutelsat 7C – the company's high-power broadcast satellite for markets in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and from Konnect Africa, Eutelsat's programme for providing satellite broadband coverage to Sub-Sarahan Africa.  

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