Satellite and Space Projects News September 2022 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News September 2022

John Worthy


United Kingdom

OneWeb and Intelsat enter into IFC collaboration: OneWeb and Intelsat have signed an agreement to offer a multi-orbit in-flight connectivity (IFC) service that combines Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite capacity. Intelsat will distribute OneWeb LEO capacity coupled with its GEO service with the aim to fill gaps in IFC coverage and capacity at airport hubs, across oceans, and over polar routes.  The companies expect the collaboration to be in service by 2024.

Telesat requests ITU extension for BIU deadlines: Telesat's proposed Lightspeed super-constellation of 188 satellites is facing challenging deadlines for 'bringing into use' (BIU) requirements. The BIU requirements are set up by the ITU to ensure operators activate orbital slots with actual satellites and hence avoid filings that may block rival operators from accessing specific frequencies. Telesat has asked for an extension of the first BIU deadline and the company is liaising with the Canadian government to request an extension from the ITU, citing 'force majeure' linked to Covid challenges as reason.
Antarctica Capital acquires controlling interest in Descartes Labs: Affiliates of Antarctica Capital, a private equity firm, has acquired a controlling interest in Descartes Labs, a geospatial intelligence firm that analyses satellite imagery with data sets which inform commodity price forecasting and mineral exploration, among other use cases. Antarctica Capital confirmed its commitment to maintaining Descartes’ current business, while also providing the necessary capital and expertise to ensure the company’s growth.
SES and Intelsat in merger discussions: SES, the Luxembourg-based satellite operator and Intelsat are in active discussions about a potential merger, as a wave of mergers and acquisitions sweeps across the satellite industry. While discussions are at an early stage, a merger would create a combined business with annual revenue of around $4bn.
Viasat and Inmarsat merger attracts UK and EU regulatory scrutiny:  The proposed merger between Viasat and Inmarsat, announced by Viasat in November 2021, is under review by regulators. The European Commission said in July that the deal would need its approval before it could be completed as the merger may affect competition in a market for satellite in-flight connectivity services in the EEA. In August, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a separate investigation into the merger. The CMA is due to announce on 5 October 2022 whether they will be referring the merger for a Phase 2 anti-trust investigation.
ESA seeking funds for space-based solar power: The European Space Agency (ESA) will seek funding this autumn to fund a preparatory program for space-based solar power (SBSP) called Solaris. Solaris is a three-year study to look at technical issues associated with SBSP, enabling solar energy to be converted into electricity and then beamed to Earth for terrestrial use. The study would examine potential commercial opportunities for developing SBSP and address key policy issues. ESA is requesting funding for Solaris after two independent cost-benefit studies concluded SBSP has the potential to meet European energy needs while supporting the goal of “net zero” emissions by 2050.
US set to update commercial space regulation: Vice President Kamala Harris has announced plans for the United States to update its commercial space regulations. The White House intends to engage with the private sector and regulatory agencies to develop a new rules framework, designed to reflect current commercial space activity. Harris stated that the goal of this update is to ensure the United States remains a role model for the responsible use of space and to keep pace with innovation.