Satellite and Space Projects News - September 2020 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects News - September 2020

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Review of the latest updates from the Satellite and Space sector.

Driving space business in a changing world – financing, investment and M&A. Fieldfisher webinar 8 October, 1500 UK, 1600 CET, 1000 EDT

As the satellite and space sector is working through the challenges of 2020 and looking beyond to new opportunities, Fieldfisher is hosting a webinar featuring leading industry specialists to debate some of the key issues affecting finance and investment in the sector. Chaired by Fieldfisher's head of Satellite and Space Projects, John Worthy, the webinar will include expert panellists Stuart Martin, CEO Satellite Applications Catapult, Mark Boggett, CEO of Seraphim Capital, Antony Northrop, CEO of NOR Capital and Tim Bird, partner at Fieldfisher. Further details are available here, including information about booking a place for the webinar.

GMV acquires Nottingham Scientific Limited: UK aerospace company, GMV Innovating Solutions Limited, is to merge with Nottingham Scientific Limited (NSL), a leader in satellite navigation and critical applications, becoming the sole shareholder of NSL.  GMV CEO, Jesús B. Serrano, commented, "this merger will enable the resultant firm to tap into significant commercial, technological and operational synergies, boosting GMV NSL’s rate of growth and winning it a place in the space programs of both the UK and Europe as a whole".

MonacoSat-2 plans: Satellite operator MonacoSat is working with SSI-Monaco and the government of Monaco on a project for a second geostationary communications satellite, MonacoSat-2. The company's first communications satellite, TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSat, was built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor with finance from the Turkmenistan government. The company expects to announce the manufacturer for MonacoSat-2 by the end of this year. 

Intelsat USD400 million acquisition of Gogo: Intelsat announced 31 August that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the commercial aviation business of Gogo, the largest provider of in-flight broadband connectivity. Gogo currently serves 21 commercial airlines, including 9 of the top 20 global carriers. Intelsat will fund the US$400m transaction through existing debtor-in-possession financing and cash. 

Yahsat/Thuraya selects Airbus:  Airbus has been selected by UAE global satellite operator, Yahsat, to build Thuraya 4-NGS, a next generation, L-band, mobile telecommunications system. Based on Airbus's electric Eurostar Neo Platform, with a 12 meter L-band antenna, the system will increase the company's capacity and coverage across Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East and will enable a wider range of products and services including interoperable fixed and mobile satellite solutions. Thuraya 4-NGS is scheduled for operation in 2024.   

OneWeb in V-band approval: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved OneWeb's application for next generation V-band satellite broadband services. OneWeb already has FCC approval for a 720 satellite Ku/Ka band constellation and will now be able to operate an additional 1280 satellites V-band satellites at a nominal altitude of 8,500km. The FCC order, issued on 26 August 2020, requires OneWeb to post a surety bond and sets interim and final deadlines for launch, operation and completion of the constellation.

Kymeta closes USD85 million funding round:  Leading provider of satellite antenna technologies and solutions, Kymeta Corporation, announced 25 August 2020 that it has secured approximately US$85m of financing, led by Bill Gates.  Kymeta's products include U8, an electronically-steered flat-panel Ku-band antenna that provides connectivity while in motion. The funding round follows Kymeta's announcement days earlier that it has acquired Lepton Global Solutions, a leading provider of satellite-based customized turn-key communications solutions and services.

Intelsat explores HAPs:  In an interview in the September issue of Via Satellite, Vice President of Development at Intelsat, Greg Ewart, said that Intelsat is exploring whether HAPs – lightweight, balloon-like radio stations that operate at altitudes of between 20km and 50km - could be integrated with GEO networks and provide opportunities for the company's cellular backhaul business.  Among the advantages of HAPs is cost (they are significantly cheaper to deploy than LEO systems) and they can connect directly to users' MNO devices, circumventing the need for satellite phones or other specialised devices.  Intelsat is one of a number of satellite, communications and technology businesses that earlier this year formed the HAPS Alliance. 

Scotland launch site approval:  Plans for the construction of a smallsat launch facility in Sutherland, Scotland have been given the green light.  The Highland Council issued its final planning approval for the Sutherland Space Hub on 19 August 2020.  The spaceport, which will be funded by regional development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Space Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, will include a control centre, 2.5km of road and a launch pad, and could see up to 12 launches per year.