UK: Satellite & Space Projects News - January 2017

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
Article by John Worthy

LeoSat and Globalsat sign Strategic Agreement. LeoSat Enterprises, which is launching a constellation of up to 108 low-earth-orbit communications satellites, has signed a strategic worldwide agreement with Globalsat Group to market the fastest, most secure and widest coverage HTS data network in the world. LeoSat will provide Globalsat's LEO Network with access to infrastructure and Globalsat Group, the leading Pan-American satellite services provider, will provide LeoSat with access to the Americas market.

EU's new space strategy rejects space exploration. Under its new Space Strategy for Europe, the EU has said it will only get involved in space exploration if there are clear benefits to citizens. A spokesman for the European Commission has stated that it wants "to maximise the benefits of space for society and for the EU economy".

Britain endorses investment in European Space Agency. The UK has endorsed its investment in ESA and has rejected a proposal to divide its space budget more evenly between the ESA and a national programme. The UK government also reaffirmed that Brexit will have no impact on the UK's role in ESA and confirmed its increased export credit support for industry.

UK space sector continues to grow. The UK Space Agency's latest report of the UK space industry shows that the sector is now worth Ł13.7 billion to the UK economy, with many responding firms expecting income growth over the next few years. Produced every two years, the survey reports that the space industry is estimated to employ 38,500 people and supports more than Ł250 billion of output across the economy with telecommunications, navigation, earth observation and meteorology services.

Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport signs deal with Houston Spaceport. Prestwick will benefit from NASA know-how, helping to strengthen its case to become the UK's first spaceport. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will enable the parties to share policies, processes and other information relating to space travel licensing and operations. Prestwick hopes to begin flights in 2020 and would initially be a launch site for satellites for the communications industry.

UK allocates €1.4 billion to ESA programmes. The UK's investment at the ESA Council of Ministers in Lucerne, Switzerland, includes €82.4 million for the ExoMars programme, €670.5 million for the development of satellite technologies and services and €376.4 million for mandatory science programmes over the next five years.

Galileo initial services go live. Galileo, Europe's Global Satellite Navigation System, which went live on 15 December 2016, offers free services to public authorities, businesses and citizens. These include support to emergency operations to locate distress calls, more accurate navigation for citizens, better time synchronisation for critical infrastructures and secure services for public authorities. Further details are set out in the European Commission's fact sheet.

Inmarsat and Arianespace to launch EAN satellite. On 9 December 2016 Inmarsat signed a contract with Arianespace to launch an S-band satellite for the European Aviation Network on an Ariane 5 heavy lift launch vehicle. The satellite, which is being constructed by Thales Alenia Space, is due to be launched in mid-2017.

OneWeb in $1.2 billion fundraising led by Japan's SoftBank. The Japanese conglomerate, SoftBank Group Corp, has agreed to invest $1 billion to become OneWeb's largest shareholder in a fundraising that values the company at around $2.5 billion. The fundraising round will support OneWeb's technological development and the construction of its high volume satellite production facility in Florida, which will be capable of producing 15 satellites per week. OneWeb expects to begin production in 2018 and aims to use hundreds of satellites to provide internet access in rural areas and developing countries.

Spacecom orders Amos-17 from Boeing in $161 million deal. The satellite will strengthen Spacecom's coverage of the growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Amos-17 is expected to be launched in 2019 and will replace the Amos-5 craft which ceased communicating in November 2015. Spacecom, will not rely on financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to build Amos-17. Currently Ex-Im Bank is restricted from finance transactions over $10 million, resulting in several lost deals for Boeing.

Avanti in $242 million refinancing. Avanti Communications has secured $130 million in new cash funding and $112 million in interest deferrals to enable it to continue with the launch of the Hylas 4 satellite this year. Avanti put itself up for sale in July 2016 but terminated the sale process following a review of the business. Orbital ATK and Arianespace have given Avanti more time to make payments on the construction and launch of Hylas 4, which will complete Avanti's coverage of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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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