UK Government launches grant fund for commercial spaceflight. Grant funding of up to £10 million (potentially more in exceptional cases) is available to help develop commercial launch capability for spaceflight to help the UK capture a share of the market estimated to be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years. The government's recently announced Industrial Strategy includes targeting a greater share of the commercial space market.
UK Space Agency hosts LaunchUK event as government publishes Spaceflight Bill. On 21 February, the UK Space Agency held a conference attended by potential UK spaceports, spaceflight vehicle operators and government ministers as part of the initiative to achieve UK-based satellite launch services and sub-orbital flights. The regulatory framework needed to facilitate these services is contained in a draft UK Spaceflight Bill. Further analysis of the Spaceflight Bill will be available in a forthcoming Fieldfisher briefing.
Space Port 1 plans unveiled. The team behind the Space Port 1 programme, Western Isles District Council, presented their plans for a vertical launch facility on 23 February at the ESA Harwell offices. Based on the Scottish island of North Uist, close to the existing Benbecula airport, the team aims to become one of the first UK spaceports, with the capability to offer low cost, sustainable access to space, both orbital and suborbital. Designed to enhance the profile of the Western Isles as a business and tourism destination and act as a catalyst for inward investment, the scheme will bring together the site owner, site operator and the launch contractor to provide a new facility for launch from UK soil.
Galileo Commercial Service comes into force. The European Commission and European GNSS Agency confirms that Galileo will provide users with added-value services such as High Accuracy and Authentication services in addition to its Initial Services. The Full Operational Capability is expected by 2020 with the launch of four more satellites in 2017.
Eutelsat announces half-year results. Satellite operator, Eutelsat, announced revenues of €755 million (a 0.9% decrease) in line with expectations, with cost savings and efficiencies helping to make up for the decrease in revenues. Its net income is up by 2.2% to €192 million.
India launches record number of satellites in single launch. The Indian Space Research Organisation launched the 104 nano satellites, mostly owned by Earth-imaging company Planet Labs Inc, on a single rocket. The previous record was set by Russia in 2014 with a launch of 37 satellites.
Eutelsat and ViaSet close joint venture agreement. The agreement will combine Eutelsat's Ka-Sat broadband-by-satellite service with ViaSat's broadband technology knowhow and ISP business expertise. Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, the new business will focus on wholesale and retail broadband services for the European and Mediterranean regions.