Satellite and Space Projects News - January 2019
Inmarsat and ViaSat competition ruling: The UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal has ruled in favour of Inmarsat and Ofcom and against ViaSat in a case concerning Ofcom's authorisation of Inmarsat's complementary ground component as part of Inmarsat's European Aviation Network. The EAN will provide in-flight broadband services to passengers flying over Europe. ViaSat has said that it plans to appeal the decision.
US government shutdown delays Exos launch: The partial US government shut-down has led to Exos Aerospace Systems has postponing its SARGE suborbital rocket launch. The launch was scheduled for 5 January 2019 but has been pushed back to early February. The company needed a modification to its launch licence, but was unable to obtain this from the US Federal Aviation Administration in time.
Swarm fined by regulator: The FCC has settled its investigation into Swarm Technologies Inc for the unauthorised launch of four small satellites. Swarm has accepted a fine of US$900,000 and will be subject to additional FCC oversight. It will have to submit pre-launch reports to the FCC for the next three years. Swarm launched four SpaceBEEs on 12 January 2018, despite the FCC refusing the company's launch application over concerns about that the satellites were too small to be trackable.
OneWeb scales back constellation: OneWeb plans to reduce the number of satellites in the first phase of its low earth orbit constellation from 900 to 600. The reduction, which follows successful ground testing of the first ten satellites off the production line at Airbus's Toulouse facility, is expected to result in significant cost savings.
Rideshare launches – NanoRacks and Spaceflight: The small satellite sector's use of rideshare launches continues. NanoRacks announced that it has signed a contract with satellite data company – Spire – for the launch of four of Spire's Lemur 3U CubeSats on India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The launch is scheduled for March 2019. Spaceflight announced that it successfully launched 64 small satellites for a variety of government and commercial entities – the largest single rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle to date.
Future EU space programme: Negotiations between the EU institutions on a proposed Regulation for an EU space programme are expected to begin shortly. The proposed Regulation will simplify and streamline the EU's current space policy framework, secure budget for EU space programmes, and establish governance rules and a standardised security framework for the EU Space programme.
Virgin Galactic test flight: Virgin's commercial flight spaceplane, SpaceShip Two, reached an altitude of 51.4 miles (82.7km) in a test flight on 13 December 2018. A two-man crew was on board the plane, which launched from the Mojave spaceport in California.
Intelsat: Investment management firm Kerrisdale Advisers LLC sold a substantial proportion of its shares in Intelsat between June and September 2018, according to filings with the SEC. The firm reduced its holding from 8,479,162 as at 30 June 2018 to 687,295 as at 30 September 2018. Kerrisdale had previously gone long on Intelsat stock, forecasting that values would increase significantly as a result of Intelsat's and SES's proposal for the reallocation of C-band spectrum for 5G.