United States: Space Business Review - April 2014

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


On April 29, Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) announced that it entered into a definitive agreement with Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) whereby Orbital will combine with ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups to create a $4.5b, 13,000 employee space, defense and aviation systems developer and manufacturer. The transaction, valued at approximately $5b, will be carried out as a tax-free stock-for-stock merger and will include the spin-off of ATK's Sporting Group, which focuses on commercial sporting equipment, to its shareholders. The new company will be called Orbital ATK, Inc. and will serve both U.S. and international markets for space launch vehicles, propulsion systems, tactical missiles and satellites and space systems, among other products. Analysts have noted that the merger, which advances Orbital's desire to increase vertical integration across its product lines, will produce cost synergies due to the fact that ATK is Orbital's largest supplier. Analysts also suggest that the complementary nature of Orbital's and ATK's product lines will enable the new company to expand its product offerings and enhance its market position.


On April 24, ViaSat Inc. (ViaSat) announced that a federal court jury awarded the company $283m in damages in its patent infringement and breach of contract lawsuit against Space Systems/Loral, LLC (SSL) related to the use by SSL of ViaSat intellectual property, including technology developed for the 100+ Gbps ViaSat-1 satellite. Loral Space and Communications Inc., which is responsible for defense of the lawsuit, has announced that it intends to appeal the decision.


On April 23, Eutelsat do Brasil, an affiliate of Eutelsat Communications S.A., announced that it concluded a 15-year contract with Hughes Network Systems do Brasil (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation, for all of the Ka-band capacity with coverage of Brazil aboard the EUTELSAT 65 West A satellite scheduled for launch in early 2016. Hughes intends to use the capacity to provide mass market broadband services to Brazilian consumers and businesses that are unserved or underserved by terrestrial networks.


April 16 – Space Systems/Loral, LLC (SSL) announced that it was selected by SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation to manufacture the JCSAT- 15 and JCSAT-16 communications satellites. Scheduled for launch in 2016, both satellites will be based on the SSL 1300 satellite platform and will be used to provide video distribution, data transfer communications and back-up services to users in Japan and neighboring regions. April 28 – SSL announced that it was selected by PT. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk., Indonesia's oldest and most profitable bank, to manufacture the BRIsat satellite, the first satellite to be launched by a bank. BRIsat will be based on the SSL 1300 platform and equipped with C- and Ku-band transponders to provide banking connection services throughout Indonesia from the 150.5°E orbital position. April 29 – SSL announced that it was selected by EchoStar Corporation to manufacture the high-power, Ku-band EchoStar XXIII satellite. Expected to be launched in 2016, EchoStar XXIII is designed to be capable of providing service from any of 8 different orbital slots. April 30 – According to press reports, Thaicom Public Company Limited selected Orbital Sciences Corporation to manufacture the all Kuband Thaicom 8 satellite for delivery in 2016.


On April 29, Arianespace S.A. successfully launched the KazEOSat-1 Earth observation satellite for the Republic of Kazakhstan on a Vega launch vehicle in what marked Vega's first fully commercial mission. Manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space based on its Astrobus platform, KazEOSat-1 will be used by the Republic of Kazakhstan for a range of civil applications, including mapping, natural and agricultural resources monitoring and natural disaster rescue operations.


April 28 – Arianespace S.A. announced that it was selected by PT. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. to launch the BRIsat satellite on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle in 2016. April 30 – Press reports indicate that Thaicom Public Company Limited selected Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to launch Thaicom 8 on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle in 2016.

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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