United States: Space Business Review February 2016


On February 9, ViaSat, Inc. (ViaSat) announced plans to develop ViaSat-3, a new global broadband constellation of three Ka-band satellites, each capable of delivering throughput of 1-terabit-per-second, and disclosed to investors that it intends to spend roughly $1.4b over 5 years to provide cost-efficient bandwidth to users in the terrestrial, business, commercial aviation, government mobility, maritime and offshore-energy markets. ViaSat selected The Boeing Company as the prime contractor for the ViaSat-3 class, with two firm orders already in place for satellites that will cover the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. ViaSat will manufacture the ViaSat-3 class Ka-band payload modules itself. It is expected that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation will launch two of the ViaSat-3 satellites using the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle beginning in 2020, and that Arianespace S.A. will launch the other ViaSat-3 satellite on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle in late 2019 or early 2020.


On February 26, SES S.A. (SES) announced that SES Platform Services GmbH (SES PS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, will acquire 100% of Israeli firm RR Media Ltd. (RR Media) for an enterprise value of $242m, using existing financial resources. RR Media provides scalable, converged digital media services to more than 1,000 media companies globally, reaching more than 95% of the world's population. The transaction will result in the formation of a new, stand-alone, world-leading digital media services company that will focus on offering highly optimized content management and distribution solutions and will leverage the combined network and multiple satellite positions of SES PS and RR Media, and draw upon a sizeable fiber network and the Internet, to maximize market reach and enhance revenue generation. The parties expect the acquisition to close in Q2 or Q3 of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals.


On February 14, Rocket Lab Ltd. (Rocket Lab) announced that it was selected by Spire Global Inc. (Spire) to launch an as-yet-unspecified number of Spire's cubesat-class weather data gathering satellites on up to 12 launches using the Electron launch vehicle, still being developed by Rocket Lab. The launches are scheduled to begin in late 2016 and run through 2017.


On February 21, DigitalGlobe Inc. (DigitalGlobe) announced that it entered into a joint venture agreement with Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA) and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). The joint venture will develop six or more small imaging satellites, which, following their expected launch in late 2018 or 2019, will provide global coverage, with the capability to detect objects of less than 1m in diameter. KACST will manufacture, integrate and launch the satellites and will own 50% of their capacity over Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region (such capacity to be marketed by TAQNIA); DigitalGlobe will own and market all other capacity worldwide. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


On February 23, Gogo Inc. (Gogo) and SES S.A. (SES) announced that they entered into one of the largest ever satellite capacity deals in the aero segment. Under the deal, SES will provide Gogo with capacity on the SES-14 and SES-15 satellites for in-flight entertainment and connectivity services on flights over North America, as well as access to capacity on the SES- 12 satellite for services on flights across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Russia. On February 25, Panasonic Avionics Corporation announced that it signed two major, multi-year capacity agreements with SES, also for SES-14 and SES-15, for the provision of in-flight Wi-Fi and live television to users in aeronautical and other markets in the Americas. SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15 are all scheduled for launch in 2017.


On February 3, Lockheed Martin Corporation announced that it was selected by SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation to manufacture the JCSAT- 17 satellite based on the A2100 satellite platform. Scheduled for launch in 2019, JCSAT-17 will be equipped with capabilities in C-, Ku- and Sbands and will provide communications services to users across East Asia, including Japan.


On February 22, The Tauri Group released a study noting that a total of $1.8b of "venture" capital was invested in space companies in 2015, led by the $1b investment in Space Exploration Technologies Corp. by Google and Fidelity Investments and the $500m invested in OneWeb, Ltd. in its Series A funding round.

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