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Satellite & Space News - November

John Worthy
16/11/2015

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United Kingdom

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

Satellite launchers for the Middle East

Swiss Space Systems, through its subsidiary S3 Middle-East, has partnered with the D&B Group with a view to developing a framework for small satellite launches across the Middle East. The companies' goal through this partnership is to develop, manufacture, certify and operate unmanned suborbital shuttles to locally launch small satellites up to 250kg by 2019. Other S3 partners include Dassault Aviation, Kuznetsov, RKK Energia and Thales Alenia Space. S3 and D&B Group plan to launch the S3 Middle East office during the Dubai Air Show in November 2015.

BridgeSat plans optical network

BridgeSat, a start-up satellite operator that offers optical communications solutions, has announced its plans to create a network of SmallSats and ground stations to aid the transfer of data – principally, Earth Observation data - from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) small satellites.  BridgeSat has a two stage plan for creating the network. The first phase will focus on secure, high-bandwidth data transmission via an optical downlink system. For the second phase, BridgeSat plans to try to eliminate downlink latency by launching a constellation of relay satellites that can transport the data to the ground, even when the ground control station is not within view, through the use of a laser system. BridgeSat also plan to markets its system to users of high-altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Eutelsat partners with Facebook on Ka-band broadband

Facebook and Eutelsat announced on 5 October that they are partnering on an initiative to provide satellite-based broadband internet connectivity to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.  The deal will see the two companies share the entire broadband payload on Spacecom's AMOS-6 satellite, currently under construction and scheduled for launch at the end of Q1 2016. The initiative will provide service for Facebook's Internet.org, delivering internet connectivity to hard-to-reach areas across the world. AMOS-6 has a payload of 36 Ka-band spot beams with a total throughput of 18 gigabits per second. It also carries a 39-transponder Ku-band payload. The satellite will operate at 4 degrees west in geostationary orbit and will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa.

OneWeb plans to minimise space debris

OneWeb has revealed plans to minimise space debris arising from its planned global constellation of 648 micro-satellites. The company has said that it will take measures beyond those recommended under international guidelines by providing extra fuel to deorbit its satellites and by designing its satellites so that they can be retrieved mechanically if necessary. International guidelines require that Low Earth Orbit satellites fall out of orbit within 25 years of retirement. OneWeb aims to ensure that its satellites do so within 5 years of retirement. The OneWeb constellation is scheduled for roll-out in 2017.

OneWeb CEO announced

OneWeb has announced Matthew O'Connell, former CEO of GeoEye, as its new Chief Executive. He will be responsible for raising $2-2.5 billion for the cost of building and launching OneWeb's satellite constellation.

Surrey Satellites supports Myanmar's space programme

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the Myanmar Aerospace and Engineering University, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the University of Surrey. The parties' goal is to work together to develop aerospace and satellite technologies in Myanmar.

Second comsat for Azerbaijan

Space Systems/Loral (SSL) has been selected by Azercosmos and Intelsat to build a new communications satellite, Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38.  The deal is part of a strategic partnership between Azercosmos and Intelsat, announced in February this year.  The satellite will be positioned at 45 degrees east and will serve Central and Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  Launch is scheduled for 2017 and will be financed with a loan from Export Development Canada (EDC). SSL won the contract after the original contract with Orbital ATK fell through as a result of the lapse of Ex-Im Bank's authorisation.

Eutelsat's CEO to retire

Eutelsat has announced that its Chief Executive, Michel de Rosen, will retire in March 2016. He will remain in the role of non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors until November 2016. He will be replaced by Rodolphe Belmer, former Chief Executive of Groupe Canal. Before taking over as Chief Executive, Belmer will act as co-Deputy Chief Executive to assist with the transition process.

SpaceX launch planned

After the failed launch of the Falcon 9 rocket in June, SpaceX plans to resume its launches by mid-December with a satellite launch for M2M and IoT solutions provider, Orbcomm. Initial investigations suggest that the June was caused by a weak strut, and SpaceX has since announced that it plans to test every strut itself as a safeguard. In addition, SpaceX has been developing an improved second stage for the Falcon 9 which will be tested for the first time at the December launch.

Ofcom plans new procedures for satellite filings

Ofcom has published an updated proposal for certain changes to the filing process for companies based in the UK. The update relates specifically to changes to the process for the ‘Bringing into Use’ (BiU) of frequency assignments to stations of non-geostationary orbit (non-GSO) satellite systems. Ofcom consulted on the proposed changes earlier this year and this update reflects feedback that Ofcom received from stakeholders.  The updated proposal will inform Ofcom's position at the forthcoming WRC-conference.  Ofcom intends to publish its final decision on the procedures in early 2016.

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