Worldwide: Satellite And Space Projects News - August 2015

Last Updated: 6 August 2015
Article by John Worthy

European Government satellite communications

The European Defence Agency (EDA) announced on 26 June 2015 the launch of a €1m, 18 month feasibility study for a future cooperative government satellite communications (Govsatcom) programme.  Satellite communications play a vital role in areas such as defence, security, humanitarian aid, emergency response, diplomatic communications as well as civil and military operations in remote areas.  The feasibility study is aligned with the ongoing work of European Commission and Council for the development of next generation Govsatcoms capabilities across Europe. 

Series B funding for Spire

Satellite-powered data company Spire announced on 30 June 2015 that it has raised US$40m.  The Series B funding (from Promus Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Jump Capital, RRE Ventures and Lemnos Labs) will support Spire's rapid growth plans which, if all goes to plan, will see the business having a constellation of 100 satellites in orbit within 18 months, collating weather and maritime data.

Nigeria SAR 1

UK-based Menasat Gulf Group Plc announced (26 June 2015) that it has entered into a US$250m joint venture with Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency to develop a high resolution Earth Observation Synethetic-Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite – Nigeria SAR 1. The venture aims to build and launch the satellite by 2020 and is expected to generate revenues from sales of satellite imagery and value added services to government and institutional clients in Nigeria.

UK satellites launched from India

Three Earth Observation Satellites from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) along with SSTL's CBNT-1 platform and a CubeSat developed by Surrey Space Centre were all launched aboard a PSLV-XL launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota launch site in India.   The Earth Observation Satellites will form SSTL's DMC3 TripleSat Constellation and will provide imaging services to Beijing company, The Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Company Ltd.

SpaceX Falcon 9

Elon Musk confirmed on 20 July 2015 that the failure of its Falcon 9 rocket launch on 28 June was most likely caused by the breaking of a strut in the second stage liquid oxygen tank.  The strut was used to secure a high pressure helium bottle and the investigation is focusing on the theory that when the strut broke, it caused helium to be released into the oxygen tank causing an overpressure event. 

Virgin Galactic launch date

The Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Christine Anderson, told the Legislative Finance Committee on 15 July that she is hopeful that Virgin Galactic will begin commercial flights in summer 2016.  Christine Anderson went on to "That's just an assumption.  It doesn't mean I know any more than anyone else, but it means that I had to base my budget on something."

New VC fund for space start-ups

London based VC company, Seraphim Capital has announced the planned launch in October this year of an £80m venture capital fund aimed at European space start-ups. Corporate investors in the fund will include Airbus Defence and Space, Telespazio, Avanti Communications, Thales Alenia Space UK and Com Dev. 

PPP for Quantum Satellite

On 9 July 2015, Eutelsat Communications, Airbus Defence and Space and the European Space Agency entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the Quantum satellite. Quantum will be the first satellite that can be fully reconfigured in orbit and operate in any geographic region.  In its press release, Airbus Defence and Space commented, "This ability to track or establish new markets, mirror or complement another satellite anywhere in geostationary orbit will transform fleet management and result in a significantly more efficient use of resources."

NewSat assets sold by receivers

Global satellite telecommunications service provider, SpeedCast International Limited, announced on 10 July that it has acquired the assets of the teleport and satellite services business of NewSat from its receivers. The assets include the land & buildings at NewSat's teleport facilities in Adelaide and Perth and the associated plant & equipment, as well as most of the customer and supplier contracts. SpeedCast is also retaining 20 key employees, in the operations & engineering department and in sales, including in the US.

CubeSats and space debris

NASA has published the results of its decade-long review of the environmental implications of CubeSat traffic in its publication, Orbital Debris Quarterly News.   The review found that, assuming an operational life of 2 years, some 44 CubeSat's currently in orbit will not comply with the internationally accepted "25-year guideline" that the life of a spacecraft should not  extend beyond 25 years after mission completion.

Space Code of Conduct

Multilateral negotiations on the proposed international Code of Conduct for Outer Space took place in New York from 27 – 31 July.    At the time of writing, the outcome of the negotiations has not been made public.  The negotiations follow three rounds of multilateral Open-ended Consultations held in Kiev (May 2013), Bangkok (November 2013), and Luxembourg (May 2014). 

Inmarsat and ESA PPP

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Inmarsat have signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement that will support the Inmarsat Communications Evolution (ICE) initiative, it was announced on 15 July 2015.   ICE aims to identify new technologies to create the next generation of space-enabled communications services, creating an open architecture with standard interfaces to facilitate interoperability.  Initial funding of €4.2 million will support a nine-month feasibility study, for which Inmarsat is the Prime Contractor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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