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Satellite and Space Projects News - February 2018



United Kingdom

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

Clyde Space: Swedish space solutions and systems provider ÅAC Microtec has acquired 100 per cent of the shares in CubeSat provider Clyde Space Limited.  The acquisition was paid for with 30,466,326 new shares in ÅAC and £2m cash.  The combined companies plan to strengthen their position in the CubeSat market and to offer high-reliability technology and products ranging from 1U CubeSats to 500 kg satellites.

Blue Origin: Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle flew from the company's Texas launch site on 12 December 2017 with 12 commercial, research and education payloads.  New Shepard is Blue Origin's fully reusable vertical take-off, vertical landing space vehicle.  The mission featured New Shepard's next-generation booster and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0.

Space deals 2017: PWC reported that total deal values announced in 2017 in the global aerospace and defence sector set a new record at $72billion, up 79% from 2016.  Significant space sector deals included the acquisition of Orbital ATK by Northrop Grumman ($9bn) and the acquisition of Zodiac Aerospace by Safran ($8bn).

OneWeb MEO constellation: OneWeb (WorldVu Satellites Limited) submitted a filing to the FCC on 4 January 2018 to amend the MEO component of its non-geo-stationary satellite orbit (NGSO) system.  OneWeb wants to increase the number of satellites to be deployed in the MEO orbit from 1,280 to 2,560 and wants to add Ku-, Ka- and E- frequency bands to these MEO satellites.  OneWeb's request follows a change in FCC rules that came into effect after OneWeb initially requested authorisation for 1,280 MEO satellites back in March 2017.

UK-based company signs space drone deal: Effective Space, an Israeli start-up with headquarters in the UK, is reported to have signed a $100m deal with an unnamed major regional satellite operator.  Under the deal, Effective Space will provide space drones to deliver in-orbit servicing that will extend the life of the operator's satellites.

UK Spaceport: A bid by the Outer Hebrides for a UK spaceport to be located there has been given a boost by a planned visit to North Uist by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy in the Scottish Government, Paul Wheelhouse.  A number of sites in Scotland have been proposed as possible locations for a spaceport including Prestwick Airport, Unst in the Shetland Islands and Machrihanish in Kintyre.

Avanti restructuring: Avanti Communications announced on 25 January that it has begun the process of seeking consent from holders of secured notes for the proposed restructuring of the group's debt through a debt for equity swap.  Under the proposed restructuring, announced in December 2017, $557m of Avanti Communications Group PLC debt would be swapped for approximately 2 billion new ordinary shares of 1 pence each in the company. 

Rocket Lab launch: Rocket Lab, a private company that aims to provide frequent low cost LEO launch opportunities announced that its second Electron orbital launch vehicle, Still Testing, successfully launched, reached orbit and deployed customer payloads on only its second test flight.  The company also reported that it has successfully tested a previously unannounced kick stage on the launch vehicle that allows Rocket Lab to place numerous payloads into different orbits. 

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