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Satellite & Space Projects News - September 2016

John Worthy


United Kingdom

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

Thales Alenia Space and LeoSat:  Thales Alenia Space and LeoSat Enterprises have signed the phase B contract for the development of a Low Earth Orbit satellite constellation comprising 78 to 108 high-power Ka-band satellites that will deliver global services to large corporations and governments. Phase B, which concerns the detailed definition of the overall system architecture and performance specifications, including ground and space segments, will result in a manufacturing plan that will pave the way for production and development of the constellation.

Ariane-6 gets ESA approval:  The European Space Agency has approved the investment required for the design and build of Ariane 6, it was reported by (16 September 2016). Ariane 6, under development by Airbus Safran Launchers and the European Space Agency, is intended to improve Europe's competitiveness in the launch market in the face of stiff, and considerably cheaper, competition. 

SpaceX explosion:  Following the explosion of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 1 September 2016, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel commented that Arianespace has seen an increase in interest in its launch services for 2017 and is exploring whether it can offer additional launch slots.  The company's launch schedule is currently almost full through to 2018.

Brexit:  Brexit will not affect the UK's position as a member state of the European Space Agency, but will impact its participation in EU-funded programmes such as the Copernicus satellite system according to Jean Bruston, head of the ESA's EU policy office, (, 15 September 2016).  To secure continued participation in Copernicus, the UK would need to negotiate a new agreement with the EU, as Norway and Switzerland have done. 

Euroconsult industry forecast:  Euroconsult's latest Satellite Communications & Broadcasting Markets Survey predicts that by 2025 satellite traffic will reach 3.5Tbps, an increase on previous forecasts.  However, Euroconsult anticipates that increases in capacity supply will be off-set by a fall in pricing driven by increased competition. 

Orbital Access horizontal launch vehicle:  Orbital Access, a start-up launch services business based in Glasgow, is aiming to achieve its first launch using its Orbital 500 horizontal airborne launch platform in 4 years' time.  In an interview with Via Satellite, Orbital Access CEO, Stuart McIntyre, said that Orbital 500 will comprise a conventional wide-body aircraft that will be used to launch at altitude small payload rockets of maximum 50kg.  Orbital 500 will provide horizontal launch services from the UK's planned spaceport and from other locations around the world.

Avanti wins ESA contract:  Avanti Communications Group announced 16 September that it has been awarded a new contract by the European Space Agency to provide affordable satellite broadband connectivity across Sub-Saharan Africa.  The ESA will contribute up to €10.7m to the programme which will see Avanti partner with Sentech, Wananchi, Intersat and Imarasat.

Fieldfisher Space Business Summit 2016: Our 2016 Summit on 15 November brings together a stellar range of speakers and is focused on "Evolution or Revolution? Growing and financing space business in a time of change". If you are interested in attending please click here for more information.


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