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Satellite and Space Projects News - October 2018



United Kingdom

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

New framework for UK satellite launch licences: On 1 October 2018, the UK Space Agency introduced a new traffic light system into its pre-application licensing process for satellite operators. The system lets applicants know early in the process how likely it is that their application will be successful.  The Agency is also amending the requirements for operators to hold in-orbit third party liability insurance.  A new sliding scale will differentiate between low risk and higher risk missions, allowing for satellites varying from GEOs to constellations and smallsats/nanosats.

LeoSat hits US$1bn sales: LeoSat Enterprises announced that it has reached a significant business milestone by securing pre-launch commercial agreements valued at over US$1bn.  LeoSat is working with Thales Alenia Space to manufacture and launch a constellation of up to 108 Ka-band communications satellites interconnected through laser links. 

Skyrora launch: Scottish-based launch vehicle developer, Skyrora, achieved a successful test launch of its 9ft Skylark Nano rocket.  The rocket reached an altitude of 4 miles and a speed of Mach 1.45.  Skyrora is aiming to become a leading launch provider at the UK's first spaceport, planned for the A'Mhoine peninsula on Scotland's north coast.

Brexit and space programmes: The UK government has issued a technical notice setting out the impact on satellite and space programmes if there is a no-deal Brexit. The technical notice considers the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the Galileo, Copernicus and EU Space Surveillance Tracking programmes and sets out guidance on the steps that UK satellite businesses, researchers and academics should take.

Space junk captured by British satellite: A net and harpoon solution developed by a consortium of satellite partners led by Surrey Space Centre has successfully captured space debris during trials.  Other members of the consortium that has worked on the solution – known as RemoveDebris - include Airbus Defence and Space, Airbus Safran, SSTL, ISIS, CSEM, Inria and Stellenbosch University.

ULA/Blue Origin deal: United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has selected Blue Origin's BE-4 engine for the first stage of its Vulcan Centaur rocket.  The BE-4, currently under development, will also power the first stage of Blue Origin's own New Glenn rocket. An initial flight of the Vulcan is currently scheduled for mid-2020. 

SES teleport in Isle of Man: Global satellite operator SES has opened its new teleport on the Isle of Man. The teleport will support up to four nine meter antennas, a fully backed-up power and telecommunications infrastructure, a control centre and connectivity to satellites in space and into SES’ global network.

Avanti Communications: Avanti has announced that it has signed a seven-year wholesale capacity lease agreement for its HYLAS fleet worth US$84m with a major international satellite service provider.   The agreement is expected to start in mid 2019.