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Satellite & Space Project News - February 2017

John Worthy


United Kingdom

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

Arianespace plans 12 launches in 2017. Arianespace's launch schedule is expected to include seven Ariane 5 launches, three Vega launches and two Europeanized Soyuz, following 11 successful launches in 2016. The missions include launches for global and regional operators, and for the European Space Agency's Galileo satellites. The company is also gearing up for the launch of the OneWeb constellation in 2018.

exactEarth receives £1.1 million UK Space Agency grant. ExactEarth Europe Limited, a leading provider of satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS) data services, has been awarded the grant to support exactEarth's small vessel tracking technology to improve Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) for South African small boat owners and operators. The grant is made as part of the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Program (IPP), which aims to use space knowledge to benefit developing countries. 

Dubai signs deal to build pollution-monitoring satellite. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and Dubai Municipality signed an agreement to design and manufacture the region's first environmental nanometric satellite. The programme aims to collect and analyse environmental data to find solutions to increasing pollution and address climate change.

Planet acquires Terra Bella. On 3 FebruaryPlanet announced its purchase of Terra Bella, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, and formerly known as Skybox Imaging. The two companies are both leaders in the small satellite earth imaging field. Google will enter into a multi-year data contract with Planet after the deal closes.  

Trump could be good news for satellite sector. A study from equity analysts at Berenberg Bank says that the new US President could increase funding on satellite capacity, due to potential increased government and military demand. The report, which closely analysed Europe's two major satellite operators, SES and Eutelsat, stated that the shift to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be part of a growth in consumption.

New use in airline industry for inclined orbit satellites. Clients in the airline industry are using 'direct to seat' services which beam broadband and video signals to aircraft passengers, using satellites that are nearing the end of their operational lives. Recent examples include Global Eagle Entertainment $50 million deal for bandwidth at an inclined orbit over North America for services on Southwest Airlines.

Europe's Galileo satellites experience clock failures. The European Space Agency has opened an investigation into why nine of the onboard atomic clocks have stopped working, affecting five of the first 18 Galileo satellites in orbit. The clock failures are not currently affecting the functioning of the satellites as each satellite is fitted with four clocks, with no individual satellite affected by more than two clock failures.

Ofcom publishes new Space Spectrum Strategy. The Strategy will cover the use of spectrum by the satellite and space science sectors, including meteorological and earth observation satellites. Policy efforts will be focused on enabling growth in satellite broadband and earth observation by providing greater access to spectrum for these areas.  

UK astronaut to make second space mission. Tim Peake, who spent 6 months in orbit last year, will return to the International Space Station to continue work on scientific research. This programme aims to promote space sector growth and an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects in schools.

UK Space Agency funds satellite solutions for developing countries. The UK Space Agency's International Partnership Programme is a five-year, £152 million programme designed to partner UK space expertise with governments and organisations in emerging and developing countries. The 21 chosen projects help provide solutions for local issues in countries across Africa, Asia and Central and South America, such as flooding, drought and deforestation.

Spacecom talks with Chinese buyer stall. The Israeli satellite operator Spacecom's efforts to try to sell itself to Beijing Xinwei Technology Group have stalled in recent weeks. The Tel Aviv company, owned by Eurocom, has not given up on the merger, but Spacecom has disclosed that there have not been recent discussions between the parties.

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