United States: Space Business Review-October 2016

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


On October 27, Eutelsat Communications S.A. (Eutelsat) announced that it entered into a multiyear capacity agreement with Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) whereby Yahsat will provide capacity of up to 16 Ka-band spotbeams to Eutelsat's African broadband venture, Broadband for Africa, on the Y1B satellite beginning in early 2017, and up to 18 spotbeams on the Al Yah 3 satellite starting later the same year, for the provision of broadband services across Sub-Saharan Africa. The new capacity effectively replaces the payload Eutelsat contracted for on the AMOS-6 satellite, which was lost in a launchpad explosion in September.


On October 5, Arianespace S.A. successfully launched the Sky Muster" II satellite for Australian national satellite operator NBN Co Limited (NBN) and the GSAT-18 satellite for the Indian Space Research Organisation on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle. NBN will use Sky Muster" II to provide broadband Internet service to rural and isolated regions of Australia and nearby islands, supplementing the service already provided by NBN's Sky Muster" I satellite. As with Sky Muster" I, Sky Muster" II was manufactured by Space Systems Loral. GSAT-18 is equipped with Ku- and C-band transponders and will be used to provide telecommunications services for users across India from the 74°E orbital position.


October 11Eutelsat Communications S.A. announced that it selected Orbital ATK Inc. (Orbital) and Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to co-manufacture the EUTELSAT 5 West B satellite, with Orbital building the GEOStar" platform and Airbus supplying the communications payload, marking the first such collaboration between the manufacturers. October 21Thaicom Public Company Limited (Thaicom) announced that, through its subsidiary International Satellite Company Limited, it selected China Great Wall Industry Corporation to manufacture a Ka-band satellite already leased to a currently undisclosed business partner to provide broadband and mobility services for the Asia-Pacific region. Thaicom is funding the procurement through advanced services fees received from, and plans to operate the satellite using the orbital slot and regulatory licenses of, the business partner.


On October 24, a little more than a year after completing the acquisition of DIRECTV, LLC, AT&T Inc. announced that it agreed to acquire Time Warner Inc. (Time Warner) for approximately $108.7b. Based on statements by executives of the two companies, the transaction was motivated by the evolving convergence of media and distribution channels and the promise of synergies through vertical integration, which will enable the delivery of high-demand services, such as video broadcasting, ahead of competitors. Based on current figures, following closing, Time Warner will represent roughly 15% of the combined company's total revenues.


On October 11, DigitalGlobe Inc. (DigitalGlobe) announced that it agreed to acquire its largest customer, geospatial analytics company The Radiant Group, from private equity firm Aston Capital for $140m. The acquisition is expected to expand DigitalGlobe's geospatial services business and enhance its competitive profile in both the commercial and government sectors.


October 11Terra Bella, a Google company, contracted with Spaceflight Industries, Inc. (Spaceflight) for the launch of an unspecified number of Terra Bella's SkySat satellites on a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 launch vehicle in late 2017. Intended to be used for sub-meter 3D mapping of the Earth, the Skysat satellites will be joined on the launch by a number of microsats and cubesats of other commercial and government customers, making the launch Spaceflight's first Sun-Synchronous Orbit dedicated rideshare mission. October 11Eutelsat Communications S.A. (Eutelsat) announced that it selected ILS International Launch Services Inc. (ILS) to launch the EUTELSAT 5 West B satellite on a Proton Breeze M launch vehicle. Scheduled for Q4 2018, the launch, which will be ILS' first commercial shared launch using the Proton Breeze M, will also include the MEV-1, Orbital's first Mission Extension Vehicle. In a related development, Eutelsat announced that the third launch under its existing Multi-Launch Agreement with ILS will employ the new Proton Medium launch vehicle, a two-stage version of the Proton Breeze M that is optimized for smalland medium-class satellites. The Proton Medium mission is scheduled to occur in 2019 or 2020.

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