United States: Space Business Review September 2013

Last Updated: October 3 2013
Article by Dara A. Panahy and Bijan Ganji

A monthly round-up of space industry developments for the information of our clients and friends.


On September 27, satellite data communications company Avanti Communications Group PLC (Avanti) completed its inaugural bond issuance by successfully placing $370m in Senior Secured Notes due 2019 with a coupon of 10%. Avanti plans to use the net proceeds of the offering primarily to refinance existing debt facilities, affording the company a more flexible financing structure in addition to extending its debt maturity profile to 2019. Jefferies LLC and UBS Investment Bank served as Joint Global Coordinators for the offering. Avanti was advised on the offering by Rothschild.


On September 19, Sirius XM Radio Inc. (Sirius XM) priced an offering of $650m of Senior Notes due 2020 bearing interest at an annual rate of 5.875%. Sirius XM announced on September 25 that it intends to use the net proceeds of the offering, together with cash on hand, to redeem all of its outstanding 7.625% Senior Notes due 2018, of which roughly $540m remain outstanding.


On September 9, Iridium Communications Inc. (Iridium) announced PRIME, a revolutionary, turnkey hosted payload solution that leverages Iridium's NEXT system to offer hosting of payloads on stand-alone satellites together with launch, ground infrastructure, two-way payload control, high-speed inter-satellite links and global coverage, thereby reducing the complexity, delays and costs of satellite mission development and operation. PRIME customers may take all of a satellite's payload capacity or share capacity with other customers. Possible missions include earth observation, weather monitoring and communications. Thales Alenia Space, prime contractor for the Iridium NEXT satellites, will produce a new platform for PRIME satellites, which may be launched beginning in late 2017.


On August 28, JSC ISS - Reshetnev Company announced that it was selected by AOneSat Communications AG to manufacture the AOneSat-1 satellite based on the Express-1000H platform. Expected to be launched in 2016, AOneSat-1 will provide communications and TV broadcast services to users in Latin America.


On September 30, International Launch Services Inc. successfully launched the ASTRA 2E satellite for SES S.A. on an ILS Proton launch vehicle. Manufactured by EADS Astrium based on its EuroStar E3000 platform, ASTRA 2E is equipped with 60 Ku- and 4 Ka-band transponders and will deliver broadband and DTH services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa from the 28.2°E orbital location.


September 9 – Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services announced that it was selected by the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes of Mexico to launch the Morelos-3 satellite, also known as MEXSAT-2, on an Atlas V launch vehicle as soon as 2015. Manufactured by The Boeing Company based on its 702HP platform, Morelos-3 is the third and final satellite of the MEXSAT system, which will provide telecommunications services to the Mexican government and for rural areas in Mexico.

September 9 – Arianespace S.A. announced several Ariane 5 launch services awards: for DIRECTV, LLC, in 2015, a small DTH satellite, being manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and, in 2016, the IS-32 satellite, which hosts the SKY Brasil-1 payload, being manufactured by EADS Astrium, with both satellites to provide HD, 3-D TV and cinema programming; for Star One S.A., in 2016, the Star One D1 satellite, being manufactured by Space Systems/Loral, LLC, to provide DTH, broadband and telecommunications services; for Intelsat S.A., in 2015, the Intelsat 34 satellite, being manufactured by Space Systems/Loral, LLC, to deliver media distribution and broadband services; for Visiona Tecnologia Espacial S.A., in 2016, the Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications (SGDC) satellite, being manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, to provide civil and military telecommunications services; and for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, in 2015, a new, currently undisclosed satellite.

September 26 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced that it was awarded its first commercial launch services contract, having been selected by Telesat Canada to launch the Telstar 12VANTAGE satellite on an H-IIA launch vehicle in 2015. To be manufactured by EADS Astrium, Telstar 12 VANTAGE will replace the Telstar 12 satellite at the 15°W orbital location to expand Ku-band coverage of South America, 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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