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Satellite & Space Projects News - July 2017

John Worthy


United Kingdom

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

Brexit: The Director General of the European Space Agency has suggested that UK space and satellite businesses should consider setting up EU subsidiaries to ensure that they can participate in projects funded by the EU after Brexit.  

Airbus and OneWeb: OneWeb has started production of communications satellites for its LEO mega-constellation. The high-volume assembly line in Toulouse will allow the company to validate its production methods in advance of setting up a multi-line facility in Florida.

Space junk: RemoveDebris, a venture to test technologies and solutions for the removal of space junk, is likely to launch later in 2017 or early 2018. The mission will be the first to test a net and a harpoon system in space.  The system will eventually be developed to drag captured junk back down to earth so that it burns up on re-entry.  

ELSE:  Swiss start-up, ELSE, plans to launch 64 nano-satellites on a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) to provide low-cost, global Machine-to-Machine communication services to businesses.  A demonstration mission is scheduled for by 2018. Earlier this year, ELSE established a strategic alliance with Dubai mobile satellite communications company Thuraya, under which the two companies are collaborating on technical and regulatory matters as well as sales and marketing.

PLATO mission: The European Space Agency Science Committee gave the go-ahead 25 June 2017 for construction to begin on the Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission (PLATO). The aim of the mission is to discover Earth-sized planets that are orbiting Sun-like stars at a distance where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface.  Work will now begin to build the science instrument payload and bidders will be invited to tender for contracts to supply the spacecraft. 

5G - ESA collaborates with industry: The ESA and satellite industry stakeholders have signed a joint statement as part of ESA's "Satellite for 5G" initiative. Participants will work together on 5G service trials with a particular focus on transport, media and entertainment and public safety, as well as applications development, standardisation, interoperability and resource management.

Avanti refinancing: Avanti Communications Group plc announced 16 June 2017 that it has entered into a facility agreement with HPS Investment Partners for US$100 million at 7.5%. The refinancing will replace an existing undrawn $50m facility at 10%.  Avanti intends to use the funds to complete the construction and launch of its HYLAS 4 satellite and, subject to certain conditions, to redeem or repurchase some of its outstanding high yield notes.

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