Our latest digest of recent news in the satellite and space projects sector.
Intelsat and Intel C-band/5G proposal: Intelsat and Intel have jointly asked the US Federal Communications Commission to consider expanding the use of C-band spectrum from satellite services to 5G terrestrial mobile services. The companies propose that, with market-based incentives, satellite operators could clear spectrum in the 3700-4200 MHz bank in selected geographic areas for terrestrial use. The proposal is one of a number being considered by the FCC. Some operators, such as ABS, have challenged the proposals. Other major C-band users, such as SES, are considering their positions.
UK and Australia collaborate on EO satellite: UK satellite business, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have struck a 7-year deal that will allow CSIRO access to the NovaSAR-S earth observation satellite and its data. The development of NovaSAR-S is being partly funded by a £21m grant from the UK government.
Satellite sector: a time of change: A report to investors by Exane BNP Paribas notes that the satellite sector is in a period of significant change driven by technological innovation and reduced manufacturing and launch costs. Among other comments, the report highlights that the anticipated reduction in launch costs resulting from greater reusability of launch vehicles will drive capex efficiency gains.
Launch UK: The UK Space Agency has published the Launch UK Prospectus positioning the UK as a leader in satellite innovation and commercial space flight operations. The UK government is seeking to encourage space businesses to base themselves in the UK. In support, the prospectus highlights a number of positive features, such as government investment, grant funding initiatives, geography and the UK government's commitment to increase the UK's share of the global space economy to 10% by 2030.
UK Spaceport: Representatives from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the team leading Cornwall's bid for the UK spaceport to be located in Newquay, have met with potential investors in the USA and visited spaceports in California and New Mexico.
UK Space Industry Bill scrutinised: The UK's Space Industry Bill has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords and is moving to the report stage. Members expressed concern over the extent of delegated powers in the Bill and the inclusion in the Bill of so-called "Henry VIII" powers allowing the government to amend or repeal primary and secondary legislation.
Virgin investment: Virgin announced that it has signed a non-binding MoU with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for PIF to invest $1 billion into Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company. The MoU includes an option for $480 million of future additional investment in space services. Virgin will remain a majority shareholder in the companies.
International cooperation in space: In comments made at Space Tech Expo Europe, the Director General of the European Space Agency, Jan Woerner, highlighted the importance of international co-operation over competition in the fields of space exploration and space debris such as the International Space Station and ESA's current collaboration with NASA on the Orion spacecraft. ESA is providing the Service Module for Orion's 2018 mission beyond the moon and back, and will also provide hardware for a 2021 Orion mission to take astronauts out of low orbit. Mr Woerner suggested that opportunities for collaboration should be widened to include countries such as China and India.