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Satellite and Space Projects News – May 2019

23/05/2019

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United Kingdom

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

Fieldfisher partner wins Global Award as Space Transactions Lawyer of the Year 2019: Fieldfisher partner and head of the firm’s Satellite and Space Projects Group, John Worthy, has won the Global Award as Space Transactions Lawyer of the Year 2019 from Corporate LiveWire. Award winners are selected from nominations from over 90,000 professionals and subscribers and are based on the judges’ assessment of the candidates' achievements in their chosen field based on factors such as service, innovation, experience, sustainability and other areas. This latest award follows our other recent accolades including Satellite and Space Projects Lawyer of the Year 2018 (John Worthy) and Global Award for Excellence in Space Law 2018 (Fieldfisher), recognising the firm's strengths and achievements in this field.

Amazon LEO satellite filing: Amazon has confirmed its involvement in "Project Kuiper", which aims to use a constellation of 3,236 low earth orbit satellites to provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to under-served populations. Filings for the project have been submitted to the International Telecommunication Union under the name Kuiper Systems.

Space sector investment: Analytics and engineering firm Bryce Space and Technology has reported that investment in the space sector reached $3.23 billion in 2018, up $680 million from 2017. The "Start Up Space" report concludes that the largest investment in 2018 in space start-ups was the $750m investment made by Jeff Bezos in Blue Origin.

Rocketlab Photon: SmallSat launch company Rocketlab is to deliver end-to-end satellite design, build and launch service using its new Photon platform. The platform will be able to support payloads of up 170kg and missions with an orbit life span of up to five years.

Skyrora launch plans: UK launch vehicle technology company, Skyrora, has invited UK and international spaceport operators to submit proposals for the company's next test missions. Test missions for the company's Skylark Micro II, SkyHy (Skyrora Hybrid) and SK-1 rockets are expected over the coming year.

EU Space Program: Legislation for the EU's proposed new space programme for 2021 - 2027 is a step closer to being agreed by the European co-legislating institution with endorsement from the European Parliament. Once in place, it will merge Galileo, EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) and Copernicus into a single programme and bring in two new initiatives: support for space surveillance and tracking of space objects and debris (SST) and Govatscom, the government satellite telecommunications initiative.

Ariane 6 plans: Arianespace has signed an order with Ariane Group to begin manufacturing the first series production batch of 14 Ariane 6 launchers. This follows a resolution of the Council of the European Space Agency on April 17, 2019 giving the green light for further Ariane 6 production despite concerns about a shortfall in the number of public sector launches currently on the order book. The programme requires seven public sector customer launch contracts, and only three are currently in place. If there is still a shortfall by November 2019, the ESA will put as yet unspecified proposals to the ESA member states to find way forward.

SpaceX Starlink fund raising: SpaceX is reportedly seeking a further round of funding of $500m for Starlink, SpaceX's planned next-generation satellite network for the global provision of affordable broadband internet services.