Satellite and Space Projects News - June | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News - June

John Worthy


United Kingdom

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

Laser Light and Optus:

Laser Light Communications and Optus have revealed more details about their partnership. The two companies are collaborating on the world's first commercial laser-based satellite network, bringing together Laser Light's constellation of Medium Earth Orbit satellites and Optus's ground infrastructure.  Laser Light CEO, Bob Brumley, highlighted the increased data capacity offered by laser–based networks (approximately 1,000 times more data capacity than radio-frequency (RF) networks).  Laser Light hopes that its partnership with Optus will serve as a model for collaborations with other terrestrial operators.

Eutelsat revenues:

On 12 May 2015, Eutelsat Communications reported revenues for the third quarter and nine months ended 31 March 2015.  Michel de Rosen, Chairman and CEO, said: “Eutelsat’s third quarter revenues were in line with objectives, with like-for-like growth of 4.5%. With growth of 4.4% for the first nine months, we are on track to deliver on our full-year objective. This quarter saw the refinancing of part of our debt, which will lead to lower interest charges. It was also marked by the successful launch of EUTELSAT 115 West B, the first commercial fully-electric satellite, which will bring new capacity to our Americas footprint.”


NewSat's contract with Lockheed Martin for the build of Jabiru-1 has terminated. The two companies had come to a temporary arrangement as part of bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware under which Lockheed Martin would continue to work on Jabiru-1 until 18 May 2015, giving NewSat's administrators time to put in place a rescue deal to save the contract.  With no rescue deal in place by the deadline, the court ordered the contract to be cancelled.   As NewSat was supported by ExIm Bank and COFACE, both institutions will be assessing how to minimise the fall-out from their first satellite sector failure. At a time when ExIm Bank's charter is up for renewal on 1 July, the outcome could have significant implications for export credit funding for satellite projects.  

Russian space sector setbacks:

Russia's satellite sector has suffered a series of further setbacks over recent weeks.  A Proton rocket, launched on 16 May from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, failed shortly after lift-off resulting in the loss of the Centenario communications satellite for the Mexican government.  According to Roscosmos, the problem was traced to a failure of the Stage 3 steering engine due to increased vibration loads.  This followed hot-on-the-heels of a Soyuz launch vehicle failure on 28 April 2015, and on 26 May 2015, the Times reported that state auditors have uncovered more than £1 billion worth of financial irregularities in Roscosmos's accounts.

UK participates in Mercury exploration:

A UK-designed instrument will be used to explore the surface of Mercury, determining small-scale features and finding out what the planet's surface is made of.  The Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) has been designed by the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre with funding from the European Space Agency, and will form part of the European Space Agency's BepiColombo Mercury mission, due for launch in 2017.

C-Band spectrum sharing: reported on 27 May that the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) is close to a deciding that the lower part of the C-band (between 3.4 and 3.6GHz) could be surrendered for terrestrial use.   The ASMG's announcement comes in advance of (and as part of the preparations for) the 2015 ITU WRC Conference in November this year, at which the use of C-Band spectrum is to be debated.  The ASMG expects to reach a decision on C-band sharing in July 2015.

Lockheed Martin and Arianespace win contracts with Arabsat:

Arabsat and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have signed contracts with Lockheed Martin for the manufacture of two A2100 communications satellites.  Arabsat 6A will be located at 30.5 degrees East and Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 will be located at 39 degrees East. Both satellites will be designed for a 15-year service life, and will be manufactured in Denver, Colorado.


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