United States: Space Business Review - June 2015


On June 25, OneWeb, Ltd. (OneWeb) announced $500M in equity investments from Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, EchoStar Corp. subsidiary Hughes Network Systems, LLC, Intelsat S.A. (Intelsat), QUALCOMM, Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, the Virgin Group, and Totalplay Telecommunications Inc., a Grupo Salinas company. The funding will enable OneWeb to proceed with development of its planned satellite constellation, which will provide affordable broadband Internet access to users across the globe, with a focus on rural and underdeveloped areas, while also enabling mobile operators to expand their network coverage by leveraging the OneWeb User Terminal's embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi access capabilities. OneWeb's system will also provide unprecedented speeds and low latency enterprise services to ships, planes, trains and oil platforms. Intelsat's investment is strategically significant because Intelsat, as operator of the world's largest fleet of Ku-band geostationary satellites, will provide the OneWeb system seamless interoperability with Intelsat's satellites. In related news, OneWeb also announced that it selected Arianespace S.A. (Arianespace) and Virgin Galactic, LLC to provide, respectively, 21 and 39 launch services for the constellation. OneWeb's agreement with Arianespace represents the largest ever commercial procurement of launch services.


On June 15, OneWeb, Ltd. (OneWeb) announced that it is forming a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to serve as the design and manufacturing partner for its planned constellation of 648 low Earth orbit Internet delivery satellites. Counting spares, the joint venture will manufacture 900 satellites, virtually all of which – apart from the first 10, which will be designed and built in France – will be manufactured at a facility in the United States. According to OneWeb, once the facility achieves its full run rate, each satellite will be manufactured for approximately $500,000. The first batch of the satellites is scheduled for launch in 2018; OneWeb intends to commence commercial operations in 2019. Industry analysts have noted that OneWeb will likely seek financing for the constellation from the Export- Import Bank of the United States and its counterpart in France, Compagnie française d'assurance pour le commerce extérieur.


On June 28, a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 launch vehicle experienced a failure minutes after liftoff on an International Space Station cargo mission. SpaceX has commenced an investigation into the cause of the failure – the first in 19 launches of the Falcon 9 – and stated that it is analyzing indicators of over-pressurization in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank of the launch vehicle.


June 12 – ABS Global, Ltd. (ABS) announced that it selected Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. (Boeing) to manufacture the ABS-8 satellite, adding a third Boeing 702SP allelectric satellite to the ABS fleet. To be equipped with 50 active transponders and beams in the C-, Ku- and Ka-bands, ABS-8 will expand broadcast, data and enterprise services to the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the South Pacific. Following its expected launch in 2017, ABS-8 will replace the ABS-7 satellite at 116.1°E.

June 18 – SSL and Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) of Japan announced that B-SAT selected SSL to manufacture the BSat-4a satellite based on the SSL 1300 satellite platform. Expected to be launched in late 2017, BSAT-4a will be equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders and will provide DTH broadcast services to Japan.


On June 19, UrtheCast Corp. (UrtheCast), which operates Earth observation cameras on the Russian segment of the International Space Station, announced plans to develop the world's first fully-integrated, multispectral optical and radar constellation of imaging satellites. Expected to be deployed over multiple launches in 2019 and 2020, the constellation will consist of at least 16 satellites in two orbital planes. The satellites will operate in pairs, with one satellite in each pair carrying a high-resolution camera and the other equipped with an L- and X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar. UrtheCast has selected Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. to manufacture the satellite platforms and the optical camera and radar payloads for the constellation. In a related development, UrtheCast announced on June 22 that it entered an agreement with Elecnor, S.A. to acquire the Deimos imaging business, including two satellites, Deimos-1 and Deimos-2 – both already in orbit – for roughly $84.5M.

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