United States: Space Business Review - January 2015

ONEWEB ANNOUNCES PLANS, INVESTORS

On January 15, WorldVu Satellites Limited, now operating as OneWeb, Ltd. (OneWeb), announced plans to manufacture, launch and operate a low-earth-orbit satellite constellation that will offer Internet and telephony services across the globe, with a focus on historically underserved areas. OneWeb identified Qualcomm Incorporated and The Virgin Group as initial investors in the venture; the financial terms of their investments have not yet been disclosed. The OneWeb system will feature a projected constellation of 648 micro satellites to provide low-latency, high-speed Internet access directly to small, self-installable user terminals throughout the world, extending the reach of mobile operators to rural and remote areas that are difficult to reach with terrestrial connections. OneWeb also announced on January 15 that it selected VirginGalactic Ltd. (Virgin) to launch a currently unspecified number of OneWeb satellites on the LauncherOne launch vehicle, which air launches from Virgin's WhiteKnightTwo air carrier.

SPACEX EMBARKS ON NEW VENTURES

In an address on January 16, Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), announced that SpaceX is establishing a satellite development facility in Seattle, Washington. Musk also disclosed that SpaceX intends to manufacture and deploy its own satellite constellation, which will serve as a global communications system, in Musk's words, effectively "rebuilding the Internet in space". According to Musk, the constellation will include approximately 4,000 satellites and will likely commence service in 5 years. In a related development, on January 20, SpaceX confirmed that Google and Fidelity Investments together invested $1b in SpaceX. Industry analysts speculate that the new investors – particularly Google – have been attracted by SpaceX's newly announced satellite Internet venture, which is expected to compete with the OneWeb system.

SES SELECTS ARIANESPACE FOR SES-12

On January 22, Arianespace S.A. announced that it was selected by SES S.A. to launch the SES-12 satellite on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle at the end of 2017. Currently being manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space, SES-12 will be positioned at the 95°E orbital location and will replace the NSS 6 satellite.

ORBCOMM ACQUIRES INSYNC

On January 20, global machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions provider ORBCOMM Inc. (ORBCOMM) announced that it completed the acquisition of InSync Software, Inc. (InSync) from IDENTEC GROUP AG for $11m in cash. InSync is a California-based provider of Internet-of-things (IoT) enterprise solutions; its software products are used worldwide in sensor-driven asset tracking and remote monitoring applications. The acquisition advances ORBCOMM's strategy to develop and offer the most complete set of applications and capabilities in the M2M industry.

PLANET LABS $95M FUNDING ROUND

On January 19, Earth-imaging firm Planet Labs Inc. (Planet Labs) announced that it closed a $70m Series C financing led by venture capital fund Data Collective and a $25m debt facility from Western Technology Investment. Planet Labs plans to use the proceeds from the Series C financing and debt facility to expand operations, develop sales and marketing capabilities and supplement product and application offerings.

NEW YORK BROADBAND SELECTS BOEING

On January 20, New York Broadband LLC (NYBB) announced that it selected Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. (Boeing) to manufacture the NYBBSat-1 satellite based on Boeing's 702 MP satellite platform. CMBB Vision Holdings (CMBB) of Hong Kong has entered into an MoU with NYBB to lease all of the new satellite's capacity for CMBB's planned mobile multimedia services in China and other Asian markets. NYBBSat-1 is expected to be launched in mid-2017.

SES AND LUXEMBOURG TEAM UP

On January 13, SES S.A. (SES) announced that it is partnering with the Luxembourg Government to procure and deploy a military communications satellite in late 2017. The satellite will be owned and operated by a Luxembourg-based company jointly held by SES and Luxembourg following €50m investments by each. The company will also receive a €125m bank loan from a consortium of Luxembourg banks to finance the manufacture and launch of the satellite. A portion of the satellite's capacity will be used to satisfy Luxembourg's requirements for satellite communications in military frequencies, while remaining capacity will be made available to government and institutional customers for defense and governmental applications.

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