SES v Intelsat – C Band alliance claim: SES has filed a US$1.8bn claim against Intelsat for an alleged breach of the C-band alliance consortium agreement. SES alleges that Intelsat repudiated the consortium agreement - under which the companies had agreed to share equally the proceeds from the auction of C-band spectrum - after the FCC announced that individual operators would receive incentive payments if they cleared their spectrum to an accelerated timetable.
OneWeb approvals: A US bankruptcy court has approved plans for the UK government and Bharti Global joint to provide financial backing to OneWeb and for OneWeb to pay OneWeb Satellites, the company's joint venture with Airbus, to restart satellite manufacturing. So far, OneWeb Satellites has used its Florida facility for manufacturing, but the UK government investment could see manufacturing relocated to the UK.
UK launch regulations published: The UK government is inviting comment on its draft laws to govern launches from UK soil, giving effect to the new regulatory regime set up in 2018. The keenly awaited draft Space Industry Regulations will be digested by industry and investors in launch businesses, to assess the potential impact on spaceport, launch and range control operations. Comments can be submitted to the UK government by 21 October 2020. Fieldfisher is preparing a commentary on the draft regulations – please contact John Worthy if you would like a copy of our review.
UK National Space Innovation Programme: The UK government has announced a new National Space Innovation Programme that will provide an initial £15m of funding to support pioneering ideas in the UK space sector. The first £10m of funds will support projects that focus on earth observation technologies targeted at tackling climate change and communications projects to enhance communications between satellites and ground based systems. The remaining £5m will be ring-fenced for international projects. The deadline for applications is 2 September 2020.
Europe space start-up investments – UK and Switzerland lead the field: According to the latest Space Venture Europe Report published by The European Space Policy Institute, more than €188 million worth of investments was raised by European space start-ups in 2019. Of this total, over €60m was to support 17 space start-ups in the UK, while Swiss and German start-ups raised €40m and €32m respectively. The report notes that private investment in European space start-ups is levelling off.
New UK funding for space programmes to support international development: UK Space Agency (UKSA) has announced £3.4 million of new funding for 10 leading-edge projects that back UK academics using space to tackle global development problems – from the spread of malaria to human trafficking and forced labour. This funding, announced on 19 August, reflects the latest round of awards under the UKSA's International Partnership Programme.
Airbus and MoD sign Skynet 6A contract: Airbus Defence and Space has signed a contract worth over £500m with the UK Ministry of Defence for military communications satellite, Skynet 6A. The contract involves the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch of the satellite. Launch is currently planned for 2025. Airbus's current PFI Skynet contract, signed in 2003, is due to expire in August 2022. The procurement process for the replacement Skynet 6 Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) programme to manage the UK's strategic defence communications services is underway.
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