Satellite and Space Projects newsletter August 2023 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects newsletter August 2023

John Worthy


United Kingdom

UK plans £160 million fund for Leo communications: The UK government has announced plans for a £160 million scheme to fund the next generation of satellite communications development and boost UK’s leadership in the global satellite market. This investment represents the UK's most significant ever contribution to satellite communications and reflects the government's priorities under the National Space Strategy to grow the economy and create high-quality jobs in the sector.

$45M raised in Impulse Space funding round: Impulse Space, backed by SpaceX founding member Tom Mueller, raised $45 million in an oversubscribed Series A funding round led by venture capital firm RTX Ventures. The company said this funding will support the development of its Helios kick stage, designed to enable direct to GEO missions, bypassing the need for a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The company is looking to launch its first mission, a GEO refuelling mission, in October 2023.

RAL Space builds giant vacuum test chamber: UK based RAL Space is creating a new thermal vacuum chamber for testing satellites, which will be the largest in the UK, as part of RAL Space’s National Satellite Test Facility. This will allow the UK to test larger and more complex spacecraft and will be used to simulate the extreme vacuum and thermal conditions encountered in space.

OHB brings in KKR as investor: In the latest private equity deal in the space sector, global investment firm KKR has taken a minority stake in the German space and tech company OHB and will provide €30 million to OHB portfolio company Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA). RFA will apply this funding to support its first flight of Microlauncher RFA One. The deal will also lead to OHB being delisted, following a voluntary public offer from KKR. The Fuchs family will retain control of the company.

UK boosts EO with £15m additional funding: UK Space Agency has announced a further £15m to support satellite Earth Observation (EO) technologies to deliver a range of environmental services such as meteorology, climate monitoring, environmental management, agriculture and urban planning, and improving scientific knowledge. The Earth Observation Technology Programme (EOTP) funding is part of a £400 million package announced in November 2022 to support the UK’s EO sector.

Amazon creates new Florida space facility for Kuiper: Amazon is investing $120 million into a new satellite processing facility in preparation for the Project Kuiper constellation. This will be delivered through Space Florida's Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Centre. The Amazon facility is due to be up and running by 2025. FCC expect Amazon to deliver half of its constellation by July 2026.

Voyager Space and Airbus set up space station JV: Voyager Space and Airbus Defence and Space are creating a joint venture to build the Starlab commercial space station. Starlab focuses on research applications and will provide capabilities for research, aiming to attract interest from governments and companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals. The European element of the venture will likely make it easier for EU governments and organisations such as ESA to participate in the project.

Privateer Space launches Pono data module: Privateer Space has announced a new module called Pono, to make space data available at scale, lowering the costs. The first Pono prototype will launch on a D-Orbit space tug in late 2023. Based on the data it receives from this first prototype in orbit, the company will launch a second module in mid-2024. Privateer is looking to build a marketplace for data, where customers can “ride-share” on satellites and command them to collect data on their chosen region of Earth.

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