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09 May 19. SAS lands new agreements ahead of launch of global comms constellation. Australian Space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) has signed five new memorandums of understanding and two new reseller agreements for its proposed global communications satellite constellation. SAS said these seven new revenue opportunities had all been put in place in the last month since it announced plans for a global coverage constellation to meet growing demand in the internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) sectors.

SAS managing director and chief executive Meir Moalem said Sky and Space was at the forefront of a new global commercial space industry.

“We are doing things that no one else has done before, things that will ultimately make Sky and Space a dominant player in the global space market with a strong and attractive global business,” he said.

“Having identified the fast-growing demand for IoT and M2M services, we quickly pivoted our initial satellite and launch program from an equatorial coverage to a global coverage constellation.”

Moalem said potential revenue opportunities were immensely attractive, as could be seen from the very fast and positive responses to the proposed new global coverage constellation from customers and potential customers.

“Our pivot to an initial global constellation has immediately opened up new markets and added multiple potential new revenue streams,” he said.

SAS, based in Perth, is planning what it calls the Pearls constellation of as many as 200 nanosatellites in equatorial orbit, providing low-cost communication and internet services for markets in Africa, South America and Asia.

Under its new 6U agreement with Danish satellite maker GomSpace, there will be an additional constellation of eight to 16 satellites in high inclination orbits, allowing full global coverage.

Launch is planned for early next year. The company has signed launch MoUs with Arianespace and Rocket Lab.

However, the company continues to experience cash flow problems and is seeking to raise additional funds through a $7.4m second tranche and priority offer capital raising required to fund ongoing operations and the business plan.

SAS shares remain in a voluntary trading halt.

The new reseller agreements have been signed with Streamcode, a Singapore-based telco, and T-Systems South Africa, part of the European T-Systems Group, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom.

Under the terms of these new agreements, Streamcode and T Systems South Africa will on a non-exclusive basis, resell, market, distribute and support SAS services and products.

The new MoUs have been signed with IOT Technology in the Philippines; US firm Climacell, which has a development centre in Israel; UK firms Pangea and Scrabo Security; and Russian firm IoTSphere.

Under these MoUs, SAS will work closely with the companies to evaluate mutually beneficial business models and technological collaborations.

MoUs will serve as frameworks for full commercial contracts.

“Although currently there are no revenues from these MOUs, SAS expects future potential revenues to be generated from them once full commercial contracts have been signed and the global constellation has been launched,” SAS said. (Source: Space Connect)

08 May 19. Avanti Communications, a leading provider of satellite data communications services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has signed a long-term bandwidth contract on its HYLAS 2 satellite with the Turkish communications satellite operator Turksat. Turksat commits to 1.8 GHz of capacity on Avanti’s HYLAS 2 satellite for the upcoming three years with an option to extend for a further year. The partnership will commence in June 2019 and revenues will be spread evenly across the life of the contract.

HYLAS 2 delivers ultra-reliable, high throughput data communications across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and East and Southern Africa. It will enable Turksat to service 100% of Turkey and other markets.

“We are delighted to have been able to provide this capacity to Turksat which will cover the whole of Turkey,” said Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer, Avanti Communications. “This is a significant amount of capacity on HYLAS 2 and demonstrates the demand in the regions in which Avanti operates,” added Whitehill.

Cenk Şen, Chief Executive Officer, at Turksat continued: “We are pleased about our partnership with Avanti, as Turksat is a global player in the satellite market, this agreement will enable each partner to grow their business significantly with providing high-quality solutions to different organisations with a seamless connection.”

08 May 19. Isotropic Systems’ Successful Testing of Its Ka-band Optical Devices Paves the Way to Be the First Solution of Its Kind to Market. Company is Ramping Up Product Development with Field Prototypes for Strategic Customers and World-Leading Satellite Operators.

Isotropic Systems, the next-generation integrated satellite terminal solution provider, announced today it successfully completed validation testing of its Ka-band optical devices. After previously completing successful testing of its Ku-band solution demonstrating electronic beamforming as an array, Isotropic has quickly moved to similar qualification of its performance in Ka-band. As a result, Isotropic has begun full array beamforming tests for subsequent delivery of first-generation Ka-band products planned for 2021 to strategic customers such as SES and Inmarsat.

Isotropic Systems’ patented technology will produce products for mass, enterprise, mobility, telco and mobile operator markets. The low-profile and fully integrated terminals will be priced meaningfully lower than existing mechanically gimbaled dishes, yet offer performance vastly superior to existing phased arrays and flat panel antennas.

“We enable a completely new approach to how the satellite industry can make use of the enormous amounts of HTS and NGSO capacity coming online,” said Jeremy Turpin, Isotropic Systems’ Chief Technical Officer. “By leveraging the capability of our technology, our first physical Ka-band prototype lenses match exactly with the design expectations, removing the need to do numerous fabrication cycles to tune the process. Starting with the customer’s requirements and defining the solution before spending time or money on production is extremely appealing to our anchor customers.”

Isotropic Systems has previously announced key partner-customers, including SES Networks and Inmarsat among them. SES Networks selected Isotropic Systems to develop its optical beamforming antenna technology to deliver cost-effective high-performance capacity via SES’ O3b mPOWER constellation whereas Inmarsat plans to expand its service offering via its Global Xpress network taking full advantage of the Isotropic approach.

“Our terminal architecture allowed us to make a smooth transition to Ka-band, while maintaining exactly the same cost and performance advantages we have demonstrated in Ku,” said Mr. Turpin. “Given the rapidly growing amounts of Ka capacity, we have an aggressive plan to be first to market in the electronically scanned antenna space.”

As frequency bands and constellations proliferate, Isotropic Systems’ technology meets the need for multiple independent beams, massive instantaneous bandwidth, as well as significantly lower pricing and power consumption. Isotropic’s technology will also provide the capability to maintain two simultaneous satellite links for critical handovers across the network.

About Isotropic Systems

Isotropic Systems is developing the world’s first multi-service, high-bandwidth, low power, fully integrated high throughput terminal designed to support the satellite industry to ‘reach beyond’ traditional markets and acquire new customers with a full suite of high throughput services. The company’s team of industry experts and scientists has pioneered several firsts in satellite terminal design. For more information visit www.isotropicsystems.com.

08 May 19. MoD boosts space defence as threat to satellites grows. Britain is planning new defence and military surveillance capabilities in space as concern grows over “increasing and diversifying” threats.

Whitehall’s first defence space strategy, obtained by The Times, has identified ten key risks to British satellites, which range from temporary denial of service to “permanent kill” attacks that destroy the hardware. The Ministry of Defence has proposed new measures to safeguard space infrastructure that is critical both to the armed forces and the lives of millions of Britons. Satellites provide communications, imagery, weather information, precision targeting and friendly force tracking for the British military and underscore the functions of smartphones, television sets and vehicles. Banks and emergency services also depend on ultra-accurate clocks regulated from space.

The MoD strategy warns that while “our reliance on space continues to grow”, the risks to satellites from state actors and private companies are escalating. “Both China and Russia have admitted testing ground-based interceptor missiles that have the potential to target satellites. Such systems will create significant amounts of orbital debris, putting many hundreds of other satellites at risk,” the internal document says.

Companies are exploring technology “which in the wrong hands could be used against satellites”, the document warns, adding that hackers and electromagnetic interference posed the biggest short-term threat. Other risks to satellites include laser dazzling and missile attacks.

Last year the MoD announced that its space defence workforce would rise by a fifth to 600 people. There will also be a bigger role for Defence Intelligence, the military intelligence agency, in monitoring the threats. The efforts are to be centralised in a new National Space Operations Centre, which will work towards Britain’s target of capturing 10 per cent of the global space market, including tourism, by 2030.

Britain is a world leader in satellite technology and mandarins have been encouraged by the success of Carbonite-2, a satellite providing full-motion colour video from space. Britain launched it into orbit last year after only eight months in development.

The RAF, which has taken control of military space operations, has received funding to create a constellation of small satellites alongside Carbonite-2. This and a second initiative run by Joint Forces Command will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities from space. The MoD is also pushing ahead with a defence radar that will track ballistic missiles in space.

The strategy “enthusiastically” backs the government’s assessment of a British global positioning, navigation and timing satellite system. The assessment was launched with £92m from the Treasury after the European Union said that it would bar Britain from accessing sensitive parts of its Galileo system after Brexit. An independent satellite is seen by defence insiders as unaffordable, however. Galileo is expected to cost about £8.5bn.

The strategy was devised under Gavin Williamson, who was sacked as defence secretary last week. It could be altered by his successor, Penny Mordaunt. Critics are likely to seize on the paper’s omission of costs or longer-term investment in space.

Stressing the need to take swift action, the document states: “We expect the threat level to continue increasing for the foreseeable future. Our adversaries understand our reliance on space services.”

There are about 2,000 active satellites orbiting Earth. Private companies are expected to launch half as many satellites over the next decade as have been launched over the past 50 years. The MoD said that it did not comment on leaked documents. (Source: The Times)

BATTLESPACE Comment: The key area of action required by the MoD is network resilience and flexibility. (See: Features – Private Sector Leaders Set to Build Global Hybrid SATCOM-As-A-Service Architecture to Significantly Enhance Capabilities for U.S. and International Military Forces). The Satellite 2019 show in DC has demonstrated quite clearly that technology is moving at its fastest pace for years and thus the days of governments buying their sovereign satellite systems are over as the current procurement cycles mean that the technology is old as soon as the bird is launched. Companies like Viasat offer the flexibility, capacity and crucially network resilience and security to enable government to lease not buy satellite capability and thus remain in the technology forefront and have the most secure and resilient networks available.

08 May 19. ThinKom Solutions, Inc. today announced the completion of successful live demo tests of its Ka2517 antenna with Newtec next-generation satellite modems over Avanti’s HYLAS 4 satellite. ThinKom confirmed that the on-air tests achieved data rates up to 260 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink error-free at elevation angles from 27 to 57 degrees.

The tests were conducted May 1-2 at Herndon, Virginia as a collaborative effort by ThinKom, Newtec, COMSAT and Avanti. ThinKom’s phased-array antenna was integrated with Newtec’s MDM6000 modems operating in SCPC mode to Avanti’s Gateway Earth Station in Cyprus. The communication link was coordinated and overseen by COMSAT using one of Avanti’s high-throughput steerable beams operating off its HYLAS 4 geostationary satellite. COMSAT can offer direct downlink from European and African theaters by way of the Avanti anchor beam to the U.S. East Coast in either commercial or military Ka-band frequencies.

“The high throughput rates over Avanti’s network exceeded those we have previously achieved with the Ka2517 and Newtec’s modem technology,” said Bill Milroy, Chief Technology Officer, ThinKom Solutions. “The combination of our proven compact phased-array design with Newtec’s modems and Avanti’s high-throughput Ka-band satellites provides a capability that significantly outperforms other flat-panel products.”

“ThinKom’s antennas have proven themselves in a variety of environments and use cases in air, on land and at sea,” said Andrew Faiola, Newtec’s Head of Mobility. “Combined with Newtec Dialog, throughput performance exceeds all expectations, opening up many exciting new opportunities for reliable high-speed connectivity for aeronautical and land-mobile communications.”

The Ka2517 antennas are available in both military and commercial Ka-band variants and are in production with units in active service aboard several U.S. government aircraft.

07 May 19. PlanetiQ Selects ATLAS Space Operations to Provide TT&C and Data Services for Constellation of Weather Satellites. ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., a leading innovator in ground communications for the space industry, today announced an agreement to augment PlanetiQ’s ground station operations and provide telemetry, commanding, and data support for PlanetiQ’s constellation of 20 small satellites. ATLAS will support the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation via their global network of ground stations.

PlanetiQ’s initial set of satellites launches in the fall of 2019, with the “Pyxis” — a fourth generation radio occultation (RO) instrument powerful enough to provide over 10 times the amount of data than current operational RO sensors are providing. The Pyxis regularly detects atmospheric conditions to the surface of the planet with high resolution temperatures, pressures and water vapor content. PlanetiQ’s constellation is slated to collect over 50,000 soundings per day, evenly distributed around the globe.

ATLAS is tasked with providing uplink and downlink communications services for PlanetiQ from their robust network of ground stations – ensuring reliability and low latency data delivery.

“I am greatly looking forward to working with PlanetiQ,” Said Mike Carey, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of ATLAS. “We have an incredible team and product, and we are thrilled to have been entrusted with the opportunity to work high end weather missions with COSMIC-2’s and now PlanetiQ’s GNSS-RO missions.”

Currently the ATLAS network consists of 31 operational and planned antennas globally employing Freedom™, a proprietary software platform that allows for seamless customer integration into the communication network while optimizing all mission critical components and providing automated pass scheduling. The cloud-based software approach makes communicating with both commercial and U.S. civil spacecraft simpler and more cost effective by reducing capital expenditures at every ground entry point. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

08 May 19. This year at Satellite 2019, Paradigm showcased their new MANTA® terminal, a game-changing comms-on-the-go and comms-on-the-pause self-pointing single case terminal.   The MANTA is the complete solution for ‘anywhere’ IP data connectivity via Wi-Fi and Ethernet by just adding power – satcom made simple.

The versatile MANTA operates straight ‘out-of-the-box’ for simple Deploy & Go satcoms or can be quickly fitted to any vehicle (land or sea) for comms-on-the-move.  The MANTA uses software beam forming for satellite acquisition and tracking; the on-board PIM® provides an optimised satellite service requiring no specialist skills to offer easy, high speed data service anywhere.

The MANTA is Paradigm’s latest PIM-enabled terminal providing rapid, high-speed connectivity from a single case.  Rugged, versatile and discreet, the MANTA is the complete solution providing integrated RF, modem and terminal control, as well as a

Paradigm’s other PIM-enabled terminals include the ‘internet in a backpack’ SWARM® and the flyaway CONNECT100T and HORNET range; both terminals integrate the PIM to point the antenna.

08 May 19. USAF calls for bids for Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement contracts. The US Air Force (USAF) has invited domestic companies to bid for the second phase of the Launch Service Procurement programme.

A request for proposals was released by the Space and Missile Systems Center and the National Reconnaissance Office for the purpose of competitively awarding the contracts.

The firm fixed-price indefinite-delivery requirements contracts will be awarded to two firms for national security space launch service procurements from the fiscal year 2020 to 2024 for missions launching until 2027.

Interested companies will take part in an open competition for the procurement contracts.

USAF Secretary Heather Wilson said: “We must move forward now. We are answering Congress’ 2014 directive to transition off the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine.

“The industrial base is ready and we will keep our most demanding national security space orbits on track.”

Through the competitive process, the USAF aims to secure assured access to space and to end dependence on the Russian RD-180 engine.

The process will allow the service to benefit from prototypes developed under the rocket propulsion systems agreements and launch service agreement development contracts.

USAF Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Assistant Secretary Dr William Roper said: “This strategy harnesses the commercial launch industry to meet the more demanding national security space launch needs.

“With the Congressional mandate to transition away from reliance on non-allied rocket propulsion systems and the planned Delta IV retirement, the Space and Missile Systems Center developed an acquisition strategy to meet national security space launch requirements for the future.”

In October, the USAF awarded contracts totalling $2.3bn to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance to develop rocket launch systems for national security missions.

According to the military branch, the contracts are intended to ensure the launch systems of these companies are able to meet the national security space requirements.

In addition, SpaceX received contracts over the last two years to deliver nine launch services using its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

The company launched the first of the nine missions in December last year. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

08 May 19. Chinese space firm plans first private satellite launch. As the international space race continues to gather pace, a Chinese space firm is planning a launch for next month, which would make it the first private company in China to place a satellite in orbit.

Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology, better known as i-Space, plans to from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert using its Hyperbola-1 four-stage rocket.

I-Space has successfully conducted two sub-orbital launches using its single stage Hyperbola-1S rockets. Hyperbola 1 is designed to lift a 300-kilogram payload into low-Earth orbit.

On the drawing board is Hyperbola-3, a reusable launch vehicle able to place a two-tonne payload in low-Earth orbit by 2021. Two earlier attempts by private Chinese firms to place satellites in orbit have failed.

Last October, a rocket launched by the company Landspace lost attitude and fell into the Indian Ocean. In March, a rocket launched by OneSpace went out of control not long after launch and fell back to Earth.

Previously, all launch activities in China have been conducted by the Chinese state and military. In 2014, the Chinese government changed policy on space and start-ups began emerging, helped by policies that allow transfer of restricted technologies to approved companies to promote innovation.

That launched a blizzard of new space start-ups, among them StarCraft Glory, Blue Arrow Space, Zero Space, Hacker Space, Deep Blue Space and Star Way Exploration. The area of Bejing where many have their offices has been dubbed Rocket Street.

Along with the technology transfer from the military and public sector, approved Chinese space firms don’t appear to be struggling for funds. I-Space reportedly received more than US$100m from a number of investment firms and tech companies.

A successful launch by a private Chinese company could open the floodgates of cheap and routine satellite launches, although there appears to be much work ahead in developing China’s private space sector.

I-Space was founded in Beijing in 2016. In an interview with the online Chinese newspaper thepaper.cn, i-Space vice president Huo Jia said Chinese private space companies would be in orbit much faster than companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

He noted that launch continued to be the bottleneck of the space business.

“Why is the rocket the most valuable in the aerospace industry chain? Because in the global space economy industry chain, the bottleneck is in the ring of rocket launching,” he said.

“The launching capability of the launch vehicle is seriously insufficient. The countries that can launch the rocket into the orbit are not more than 10. The number of private enterprises that can make the rocket into the orbit in the world is also a single digit. The domestic private enterprises are not currently in the orbit.”

While China has a mature rocket capability, its satellite capability isn’t as well established, noted Huo Liang, chief executive of rocket company Beijing Deep Blue.

“The key is that the satellite downstream application market has not been developed, so the satellite launch demand is not much,” he said in the interview in thepaper.cn. (Source: Space Connect)


08 May 19. Geoscience Australia seeks EOIs for super accurate GPS services. Geoscience Australia has sought partners to help build and operate the Australian Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) super accurate GPS, which has a vast range of applications across the nation.

Where once GPS was accurate to tens of metres at best, SBAS gives accuracy to centimetres, allowing farmers to precisely plant crops or for aircraft to fly closer together during landing approaches.

GPS operates by way of a constellation of satellites initially developed for the US military but which now provide positioning services accessible by anyone.

Geoscience Australia received funding of $160.9m in the 2018-19 federal budget to support development of an operational SBAS over four years. This was part of $22m allocated for better positioning systems across Australia.

Geoscience conducted an industry briefing in Canberra on Monday to explain its request for information to potential industry partners.

It said SBAS should augment standalone global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning to support the aviation, maritime, rail and road transport sectors, which require high-integrity positioning with guaranteed performance.

“The SBAS should also support a precise correction capability that can deliver decimetre accurate services across all of Australia and its maritime zones with anticipated applications in the agriculture, maritime, mining, spatial and construction sectors,” it said. (Source: Space Connect)


07 May 19. SpaceBridge™ (www.spacebridge.com), the global market leader and supplier of broadband satellite communications systems technology, unveils its SatCloud Managed Services for Satellite Network Operators, Backhaulers, and Broadcasters..    SatCloud is a Dynamic SCPC Bandwidth-on-Demand solution that uses cloud Scheduling and Orchestration services.​

SatCloud offers a Cloud-Orchestrated solution for service providers that want to provide managed high-bit rate occasional and on-demand end-to-end satellite solutions.  “It is a pay-as-you-grow, OpEx-driven model for customers, which greatly reduces launch risk,” says Assaf Cohen, VP Marketing and Sales & General Manager of SpaceBridge.

“With SatCloud, you do not need to invest capital expenses in deploying a new platform, giving you a significant reduction in risk.  You also avoid the start-up cost of training your engineering and support teams, and the need to maintain spares.  At the same time, you gain unlimited warranty provisions on the hardware and free upgrades on the software for as long as you use the service.  SpaceBridge has created a new first-of-its-kind service to help address these kinds of challenges.  Pay only for what you need, when you need it, while gaining a complete.

We believe in partnership and driving each other’s business, and doing so by recognizing the strongest suits and empowering them. We’ve been crafting and tailoring satellite technologies for the past 30 years, thus it’s only natural for us to operate, maintain and support such solutions. SpaceBridge SatCloud allows the operator to focus on driving the business, rather than worrying about maintenance and operation of complexed satellite systems that need to constantly change in order to satisfy user experience” Cohen adds.

Advantages and features of SatCloud include:

  • True Pay-as-You-Grow: buying by the Mbps and per satellite links, providing it all under a complete OPEX only umbrella.
  • Boundless Service Deployment: SpaceBridge™ Cloud Teleport hub functionalities, enable the user to deploy SatCloud and deliver service from any Teleport in the world, as long as it’s connected to the internet.
  • Managed Services: 24x7x365 customer support, Proactive Monitoring, Per-site link budget, and Advanced replacement RMA.
  • Cloud NMS: Control anything from anywhere. Oversee and control your global operations, from different Teleports, all from a one-stop-shop online cloud NMS.
  • almost Gbps payload data rates Managed services provided through SpaceBridge Network Operation Centers.

SatCloud benefits all Satellite Network Operators – Service Providers, Backhaulers, Broadcasters and Satellite Operators.  A perfect fit for Enterprise, IP Trunking, Backup solutions, Oil & Gas, Energy, and Maritime.  It is deal for starter hubs, new service providers, pay-as-you-grow, new and/or gradual deployments models.


06 May 19. Kratos Introduced Cloud-Enabled Ground Technologies at Satellite 2019. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS) today announced that it will be showing a mix of new and enhanced ground system products to help commercial and government satellite and teleport operators capitalize upon the advantages of virtual and cloud-based architectures to help lower costs, increase efficiencies and increase flexibility in service offerings.

Cloud-based environments and virtual solutions—those that replace hardware with software implementations—have revolutionized information and communications technologies across all industries. The satellite world has been a bit slower to fully adopt them, however, not for lack of interest, but because of the unique technical difficulties associated with converting and working with RF analog signals within a digital, IP environment.

In addition to its full line of ground segment products, at Satellite 2019 Kratos featured solutions that help satellite and teleport operators advance their cloud and virtual operations strategies including:

  • SpectralNet and Data Defender, two Digital IF products that work together to provide a trusted onramp to the cloud for satellite data. SpectralNet provides reliable digitization and transport of RF signals; Data Defender assures reliable transmission over impaired network links and overcome the challenges that packet-based TCP/IP sometimes brings to real-time RF streams.
  • quantumRadio, a high performance, scalable software modem for TT&C and data applications that is ready for cloud implementations.
  • The Kratos Management Platform (KMP), an integrated system that will allow multi-domain management across network equipment, RF signals and VSAT equipment. Network Management is the first module of KMP being shown at Satellite 2019.

As one of the very few companies offering commercial products across the gamut of satellite ground segment needs—from analog signal management, to digital signal processing all the way through signal assurance, terrestrial network operations and satellite command and control—Kratos is helping satellite customers get ready for what’s next in cloud-enabled satellite operations. (Source: ASD Network)


06 May 19. Ariane 6 Series Production Begins with First Batch of 14 Launchers. Following the initial institutional and commercial launch orders for Ariane 6 obtained by Arianespace since the autumn of 2017, and the resolution of the ESA Council on April 17, 2019, related to the rocket’s exploitation framework, ArianeGroup is starting to build the first series-production batch of 14 Ariane 6 launchers.

These 14 launchers, scheduled to fly between 2021 and 2023, will be built in ArianeGroup plants in France and Germany, as well as in those of its European industrial partners in the 13 countries taking part in the Ariane 6 program.

In parallel, ArianeGroup is proceeding with manufacturing of the model to be used for ground qualification tests on the launch pad in French Guiana, as well as the Ariane 62’s first flight vehicle, for which the inaugural launch is planned for 2020.

“Starting work on the first Ariane 6 series-production batch, less than four years after signing the development contract with ESA in August 2015, is a real success for the European space industry as a whole. We have made the necessary efforts to set up a new, more efficient and competitive European industrial organization in record time. We can now ensure the ramp-up of Ariane 6 production and prepare for its launch operations. Our customers are eagerly awaiting Ariane 6, and it will be delivered on time,” said André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup.

“I am particularly grateful to the teams at ArianeGroup, Arianespace, and our industrial partners throughout Europe who – each in their area of responsibility – work hand-in-hand to make the development, production, and marketing of the launcher possible. I also extend my warmest thanks to the European Space Agency, its member states and the national space agencies for their continued support in this great adventure, which is just beginning.”

Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s Executive Director for Missions, Operations and Procurement, added: “With the kick-off of these first 14 series-production Ariane 6 launchers, Arianespace is proud to continue to offer its customers the best launch services. Thanks to its 62 and 64 versions and the re-ignitable Vinci engine, Ariane 6 will be able to offer an increasingly varied range of missions to satisfy the expectations of its institutional customers and address new trends in the commercial market.”

Ariane 6 – an ESA program – will be a versatile and competitive launcher particularly well-adapted to market developments. It is modular and will be available in two versions: Ariane 62 (with two P120 solid fuel boosters, common with Vega-C) and Ariane 64 (with four P120C solid fuel boosters), enabling it to carry out all missions, to all orbits, and to guarantee continued European access to space.

ArianeGroup is the prime contractor for the development and operation of the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers, and coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies, including 350 SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in 13 European countries. Arianespace is responsible for the exploitation of Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launch systems, ensuring their commercialization and subsequent flight readiness and mission preparation for customers.

ArianeGroup develops and supplies innovative and competitive solutions for civil and military space launchers, with expertise in all aspects of state-of-the-art propulsion technologies. ArianeGroup is lead contractor for Europe’s Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launcher families, responsible for both design and the entire production chain, up to and including marketing by its Arianespace subsidiary, as well as for the missiles of the French oceanic deterrent force. The group is a joint venture equally owned by Airbus and Safran, and employs approximately 9,000 highly qualified staff in France and Germany. Its 2018 revenues amounted to 3.6bn euros.

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services and solutions for all types of satellites (institutional and commercial) into all orbits. It has orbited more than 600 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur (Central Asia). Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility in Kourou at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Ariane Group)


07 May 19. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully demonstrated rapid spacecraft development for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), with the Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2), which launched on March 28, 2019.

Northrop Grumman led a unique team of commercial suppliers to deliver a 150 kg small satellite from concept to orbit in 20 months. Traditional satellites of comparable complexity typically take many years to get to this stage.

“Our team’s success with the R3D2 program is a strong proof of concept that the rapid development of future space capabilities is possible,” said Scott Stapp, vice president, resiliency and rapid prototyping, Northrop Grumman. “We look forward to continuing to lead the cultural change necessary in the industry, by partnering with the U.S. government, commercial suppliers and startups to deliver prototypes and demonstrations for critical national security missions. Taking thoughtful risks and eliminating bureaucracy allowed us to streamline our processes to achieve rapid timelines.”

The significantly accelerated timeline of R3D2 was enabled by DARPA’s approach of reducing requirements, reviews, and deliverables, while accepting greater levels of risk than is typical for an operational system. Northrop Grumman, known for its systems engineering expertise and extensive experience in leading successful space missions, utilized innovative rapid-development processes and commercial suppliers to keep schedule and risk balanced.

The Northrop Grumman-led team, included Blue Canyon Technologies, provider of the spacecraft bus, and Trident Systems, who designed and built R3D2’s software-defined radio. R3D2 was launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand by Rocket Lab.

07 May 19. Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) today introduced a next-generation space antenna reflector solution to provide critical communication links between satellites and ground stations.

Perimeter Truss is lighter and more compact than competitive and legacy reflector designs. When stowed, the reflector is 30 percent shorter than current industry architectures and has 50 percent lower mass than legacy designs – creating more flexibility for satellite and mission designers to reallocate mass to other payloads.

Perimeter Truss is offered in sizes ranging from three to 22 meters in diameter. With a composite structure and Harris’ proprietary high-frequency mesh, the new reflector architecture was developed to meet the increased demand for more accurate, more compact, and lighter reflectors.

Harris’ Perimeter Truss reflector was designed to support the most technically challenging communication and science missions and is one of two new designs that make up Harris’ expanded portfolio of reflector architectures. The company introduced its High Compaction Ratio Reflector late last year.

“The introduction of Harris’ Perimeter Truss Reflector continues Harris’ legacy of providing innovative space reflector solutions for our customers,” said Murali Krishnan, vice president and general manager, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Harris Space and Intelligence Systems. “Harris is committed to advancing our reflector solutions with unparalleled on-orbit success and design options.”

The company recently celebrated the production of its 100th unfurlable mesh reflector. Manufacturing space antennas since the 1970s, Harris is the world reflector leader, producing significantly more than any other company. Investing more than $300m annual internal research and development, Harris leads the way with advancing its reflector technologies.


07 May 19. Labor promises $20m to establish Canberra space industry hub. Space hasn’t featured prominently in the election campaign but featured it has, with Labor committing to invest $20m to establish a space industry hub near Canberra. That’s of course if Labor wins the election. Labor’s science and innovation spokesman Kim Carr said this funding injection was on top of the $55m Labor commitment to space research and development across the nation. Under Labor’s plan, the funding will be used to establish a Jerrabomberra Space Industry Cluster, which would create up to 50 jobs in a local space industry hub, if elected.

Jerrabomberra, a southern suburb of Queanbeyan, abuts the border with the ACT.

Senator Carr said the money would be delivered through the Australian Space Agency over the next four years and would be a further investment into a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) in advanced space manufacturing.

The ACT waged a vigorous campaign to host the new Australian Space Agency but lost out to South Australia.

Canberra has a significant and longstanding association with space, dating back to the 1960s when the territory hosted three space tracking facilities, now consolidated into the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

The ACT was deeply miffed when Adelaide was chosen to be the ASA’s home, with Chief Minister Andrew Barr holding out hope that the decision could be reversed under a federal Labor government.

That won’t happen. Senator Carr said the Space Agency headquarters will remain in South Australia.

But ACT companies and universities made Jerrabomberra the ideal destination for the new space park at the High Tech Industry and Innovation Park.

“This will be in close proximity to the University of NSW, University of Canberra and Australian National University,” he said.

“It is so important for Australia to maintain sovereign space capabilities. These skills and capabilities are vital to our national security, have a critical role in the security and reliability of our national communications, and Industry 4.0 development and the jobs of the future.”

Labor member for the electorate of Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly said he had been approached by local firms about building the tech park.

“It’s the sort of research we’re desperately going to need in the future. This is exciting from a national security point of view, in protecting our satellite and communications infrastructure,” he said.

“This investment has seen a number of companies come to my door to say they will come to this high-tech park.” (Source: Space Connect)


06 May 19. Intellian, the global leader of mobile satellite communication antenna systems, is introducing the new 1.5m Ku to Ka convertible VSAT terminal. The world’s first and only 1.5m Ku to Ka convertible VSAT, v150NX, is a future-proof system supporting 2.5GHz Wide Ka-band networks as well as GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit) constellations. Its highly efficient design delivers the best RF performance of any 1.5m system on the market today for ship owners, operators and network providers. It is easily converted to Ka-band by changing the RF Assembly and Feed, as the reflector and radome are optimized for operation across both frequency bands.

At this year’s Satellite Show, which is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC this week, May 6-9, 2019 (booth #925), Intellian is displaying its new product’s Ka-band version, the v150NX Ka. This state-of-the-art terminal is also compatible with future 2.5GHz Wide Ka-band networks and has delivered speeds of 830Mbps in trials already. With GEO/MEO/LEO tracking capability, the v150NX Ka delivers unmatched performance today and is ready for operation with forthcoming new high-speed and low-latency networks.

Both the v150NX and v150NX Ka enable reliable, high-throughput broadband at sea and can be quickly installed to deliver precise, cost-effective satellite tracking as a land gateway antenna system. With its ability to track any satellites on mobile and fixed platforms, it includes smart satellite handover capability enabled by an embedded mediator. Operators can now provide a seamless network with high-speed bi-directional IP connectivity. Additionally, the antenna can be interconnected with no loss of signal even at longer distances, using the Intellian Fiber Link Solution.

Moreover, with the new NX platform, Intellian’s 1.5m satellite communication systems use a single cable, which combines Tx, Rx, and DC power, to simplify installation. A cutting-edge modular design results in lower cost of ownership throughout the entire lifecycle, while improving reliability and streamlining maintenance.

Eric Sung, CEO of Intellian, said, “The industry-leading performance, simplified installation and ensured compatibility with future constellations and networks positions our new 1.5m antennas as one of the most innovative, flexible and cost-effective connectivity platforms available for diverse users on land and at sea.”

Alongside the new v150NX Ka, Intellian will also highlight the expansion of its diverse portfolio with the launch of more new and innovative satellite communication technologies at Satellite 2019, including; the LP100, man-portable, military spec land terminal; the all new GX100NX for use on the Global Xpress network; and the OW70 for LEO constellations.


06 May 19. GSATCOM Space Technologies, a Turkish Aerospace and INVAP joint venture has been established. The new company, GSATCOM initiates its first program to develop, manufacture and market the small geostationary telecommunication satellites. Turkish Aerospace and INVAP are pleased to announce the establishment of the joint venture company, GSATCOM Space Technologies (www.gsatcom.com) to undertake the design based on heritage, development, manufacturing and marketing of the satellite family that will provide telecommunications services worldwide.

The new satellite family will offer a range of telecommunication solutions which will be implemented on a full electric platform in the small size GEO satellite concept. Thanks to shaped beams and on-board digital processing capabilities, GSATCOM Satellite Family will provide Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) or adaptive High Throughput Satellite (HTS) services with and affordable operational budget.


07 May 19.  The Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA), today celebrated this year’s Mobility Satellite Innovation Award winners at its annual luncheon held in conjunction with the Satellite 2019 conference. Open to all MSUA members, the awards celebrate technical and service delivery innovations that are helping advance today’s mobility market.

“Recognizing the larger market convergence of IT and Telecom,” said Catherine Melquist, President of MSUA. “MSUA celebrated innovations that are helping satellite connectivity align with the emerging requirements of the 5G era of mobility.  And, in a panel moderated by Erwan Emilian, MSUA’s Board Chair, executives from Globalstar, OneWeb, ORBCOMM, and SES Networks shared insights about steps they’re taking now to prepare for next-generation mobility. ”

The luncheon was widely attended by MSUA members and others involved with or following the satellite mobility community.  MSUA has an internationally distributed membership comprised of the industry’s earliest and largest mobility players as well as new and start-up companies entering the space.  This year, MSUA celebrated the innovations of – Thuraya, Iridium, Newtec, CopaSAT, iDirect Government, Alcan Systems and OneWeb:

  • Thuraya – “Top Mobility User Experience Solution” for its X5-Touch. Touted “the world’s smartest satellite phone”, the X5-Touch is an Android-based satellite & GSM phone with a 5.2” full HD touchscreen. The device delivers a unique, interactive user experience and the Android platform makes accessible, a wide variety of popular apps. Last, the omni-directional satellite antenna ensures uninterrupted walk-and-talk communications while in satellite or GSM mode.
  • Iridium – “Top Connected Platform” for its Iridium Certus® platform designed for the development of specialty broadband applications, on-the-move internet and high-quality voice. Iridium Certus is the only broadband platform providing truly global coverage for IoT, maritime, aeronautical, land-mobile and government applications.
  • Newtec – “Top Infrastructure Solution” for the Newtec Dialog – a scalable and flexible multiservice satellite infrastructure solution that enables satellite service providers to build and adapt their network in alignment with the growth of their business.  The Newtec Dialog can be used with the multitude of applications and offers future-proof connectivity as requirements and technologies continue to evolve.
  • CopaSAT – “Top Public Safety Solution” for its CopaSAT STORM enabling tactical communications while moving at extreme high-speeds on vehicles and vessels.  The CopaSAT STORM is a fully integrated solution using the Kymeta u7 flat panel satellite antenna and the iDirect 950 Modem enabling satellite and wireless connectivity for COTM and COTP requirements in harsh and challenging environments.  The CopaSAT STORM re-defines situational awareness for some of the most demanding government, NGO, military and commercial clients.
  • iDirect Government – “Top Cybersecurity Solution” for its enhanced Transmission Security (TRANSEC)-compliant network architecture that exceeds the requirements outlined by the U.S. government, while maintaining the quality of service needed to support voice, video and data over a satellite link.  TRANSEC is helping military and government users combat cyber threats wherever in the world they are operating.
  • Alcan – “Top 5G Hybrid Connectivity Solution” for its low-cost, low-power, electronically steerable flat panel smart antenna.  Alcan is using a microwave liquid crystal technology for electronic beam steering and provides connectivity to new non-GEO, GEO HTS constellations and 5G/mmWave with the goal of driving connectivity costs down for enterprise markets, connected vehicles, maritime fleets, consumer broadband and airplanes.
  • OneWeb was nominated as the “Company to Watch”.  After successfully launching their first six satellites earlier this year, OneWeb will begin one of the largest industry campaigns launching more than 30 satellites at a time beginning Q4 2019 with customer demos anticipated by next year and full global service in 2021. OneWeb’s innovations include: low latency, high throughput capabilities, a revolutionary satellite production process, a new ecosystem of component players and an LTE network in the sky enabling 5G core functionality and seamless switching between satellite beams and user terminals globally.

MSUA announced another record-breaking new membership year welcoming nine new companies into its membership, including: Intellian, Newtec, Alcan Systems, Blue Sky Networks, CopaSAT, Everywhere Communications, KnightSky, Pathfinder Digital and Solstar Space Company.

For more information about the awards, innovations, and how to become an MSUA member, visit http://www.msua.org.


06 May 19. Airbus takes next major step for Telesat’s LEO satellite constellation. Airbus has successfully completed the System Definition and Risk Management Project of Telesat’s LEO constellation and submitted to Telesat both space and ground segments solutions that not only meet Telesat’s ambitious requirements, but also provide cost effective and stable approaches for its longer term business  objectives.

Airbus has performed system optimisation, requirements engineering, and initial design of key hardware and software components for space, ground and user terminal segments.

It was also the opportunity for Telesat and Airbus to take stock of industrialisation plans, a part of which will be located in Canada, Airbus’ fifth home country.

This is an excellent opportunity for Airbus which would allow it to further develop its design and industrial capability in end to end systems with a large number of identical satellites.


06 May 19. Hisdesat appoints Airbus and Thales Alenia Space to build two SpainSAT NG satellites. Advanced technologies for the Next Generation secure communications satellites.  A four co-primes consortium formed by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space (both in Spain and France) has been selected by Hisdesat Servicios Estratégicos S.A. (Spanish Governmental Satellite Operator) to build two SpainSAT NG satellites. Used for governmental communications, these new generation satellites will replace the existing Spainsat and Xtar-EUR satellites. Airbus will act as “lead partner” of the consortium.

The SPAINSAT NG programme includes two satellites, SPAINSAT NG I and II which will be situated in different geostationary orbital slots to operate in X, military Ka and UHF bands.

The first of these New Generation Spainsat satellites will be launched in 2023 guaranteeing the continuity of the secure communications services to the Spanish Ministry of Defense and Governmental Agencies using the current fleet.

SPAINSAT NG will provide coverage on a wide area of the world ranging from the United States and South America to the Middle East, including Africa and Europe and till Singapore in Asia. Both satellites will allow to:

  • Ensure effective command and control for beyond line-of-sight operations in 2/3 of the Earth.
  • Guarantee communication capability in theatres of operation lacking communications infrastructure.
  • Develop more satcom on the move, higher capacity, better secured and assured communications.
  • Unlock the potential of the network centric battlespace-netcentric warfare and operations.

The communication payloads of both satellites will be provided by the Spanish industry, including the integration of the Communications Module in Spain, a major step forward for the Spanish industry. Airbus in Spain will be responsible for the X band payload, while Thales Alenia Space in Spain will be responsible for the UHF and mil-Ka band payloads. Other companies from the Spanish space industry will also be involved.

UHF is a new capability that was not available on the previous Spainsat fleet. Both satellites will offer redundancy in the zones of interest for the Spanish Armed Forces and will also incorporate advanced protection technologies for anti-jamming and anti-spoofing, plus hardened protection against nuclear phenomena at high altitude.

The satellites will be based on the Eurostar Neo platform, Airbus’ new geostationary telecommunications satellite product, a significant evolution of the highly reliable and successful Eurostar series with an entire range of major innovations. These include an X band fully flexible payload, employing active antennas with in orbit reconfiguration capability, an onboard digital processor that will interconnect the X and mil-Ka band payloads for cross-banding, and a dedicated high speed service link enabling fast re-configuration. This will result in a greater capacity, and increased flexibility allowing for electronic reorientation of the beams depending on the coverage needs.

Hisdesat is the owner and operator of the new generation of communication satellites, SPAINSAT NG. The main customer is the Spanish Ministry of Defence having a Public Private Partnership with Hisdesat and, among others, the new satellites will also contribute to other Spanish governmental bodies, allies and friendly countries with bilateral agreements, the EU governmental Communications programme, “Govsatcom” and hopefully to the future NATO CP130 capabilities package for satellite communications. In addition, SPAINSAT NG will continue providing services to the existing and future customer base of XTAR LLc.

The development of SPAINSAT NG is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, as well as the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) in the framework of a public-private partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the satellite operator Hisdesat. The SpainSAT NG satellites will have an operational lifetime of 15 years being in service up to 2037.


06 May 19. Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions, a leading provider of electronics technology and services for space and other high reliability applications, announced today the new LeanRELTM product family designed to meet the needs of small satellite and non-traditional spacecraft manufacturers. The LeanREL product family, comprised of microprocessors, microcontrollers, as well as memory and interface integrated circuits (ICs), leverages Cobham’s 30+ years of radiation-hardened, QML level reliability, and innovative space systems design expertise and offers an unmatched combination of user benefits. LeanRel ICs are ideal for space-flight, military and aerospace applications that need to operate and survive in harsh environments while remaining cost competitive. Based on the same QML pedigree and silicon as the company’s renowned HiRel solutions, Cobham’s LeanREL ICs can enable significant cost savings—up to 60% depending on quantities, to extend mission durations well beyond that of typical off-the-shelf ICs and greatly speeds up time to market through rapid prototyping.


06 May 19. NAL Research Corporation, manufacturer of the SHOUT line of handheld tracking and messaging devices and a leading designer of Iridium® satellite communications systems, announced today the launch of a new web-based real-time tracking and communication platform. NAL Vue is a uniquely integrated asset management system that supports NAL devices, 3rd party tracking products, satellite feeds and mobile data. Through a centralized portal, users can monitor real-time movement of their tracked assets, communicate live with personnel in the field and review detailed historical data. By consolidating multiple device and communication streams under a single interface, NAL Vue improves situational awareness, enables timely and effective mission decisions, and simplifies incident investigations and reporting.

“NAL Research has an extensive history delivering innovative real-time tracking and communications solutions to commercial and military customers,” said NAL Research President Robert Bills. “NAL Vue is the next step in our evolution. Our customers told us they needed a more reliable and comprehensive system to monitor their personnel and assets in the field. NAL Vue is about delivering a consolidated asset management system that is backed by the robustness, reliability and security that the industry has come to expect from NAL Research.”

As an enterprise-grade system, NAL Vue delivers extensive options for customization. Users can establish custom emergency alerting criteria and add geofences, landmarks, real-time weather and custom mapping layers. A robust reporting interface delivers a wide range of online reports and flexible data export options.

NAL Vue is available for immediate delivery.

About NAL Research

NAL Research designs and manufactures Iridium satellite modems, communications systems and tracking terminals for the defense, research and commercial sectors. NAL products are ruggedly built and widely used for the world’s most demanding environments. NAL’s flexible platforms can be tailored to a wide range of unique missions and applications – from asset tracking to search and rescue, remote sensing, and command and control. With corporate headquarters located in Manassas, Virginia, the company actively supports its customers as a prime contractor or as a subsystem supplier depending upon the needs of the program. As an Iridium Value Added Manufacturer (VAM) and Value Added Reseller (VAR), NAL Research is committed to developing products that provide customers with the full capability of the Iridium NEXT Constellation.


03 May 19. Touching the face of God. For a long time now, US Congress has worried that its nation’s military space programmes have been off the pace, according to Kathleen McInnis, a specialist in international security at the Congressional Research Service. A report she co-authored – Toward the Creation of a US “Space Force” – states that “fragmentation and overlap in national security space acquisition management and oversight have contributed to program delays and cancellations, cost increases and inefficient operations”. China, Russia and other nations are finding ways to target US space systems. Uncle Sam is responding accordingly.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has requested $14.1bn (£10.9bn) for space in 2020. Around $72m of this will go towards establishing a Space Force, which has been championed by President Donald Trump. “One of the primary intended functions of a new Space Force is to create a more streamlined system of procurement for space capabilities,” according to Ms McInnis. Space Force will cost approximately $2bn over five years. This is a minuscule outlay on space defence, given that the DoD will receive $718.3bn in 2020 overall.

Conflict has historically shaped the space race, but things are changing. The Nasa budget stagnated under President Obama. The likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin, run by business moguls Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, respectively, symbolise the growing importance of the private sector in space development. The military must learn to share space with corporate enterprise. Reliable reusable rockets and passenger flights are within our grasp.

Fifty years ago this July, the Cold War forced us towards the moon, where Neil Armstrong took that small step for a man. But fiction has captured, and inspired much of our experience of space. Early into his first term, The West Wing’s President Bartlet refers to a lost Soviet satellite, which has mistakenly been identified by a White House visitor as a UFO, as “a sad reminder of a time when two powerful nations challenged each other, and then boldly raced into outer space”. There are more than two nations in space now – it remains a potential landscape for conflict. Moreover, space is no longer the preserve of warring governments.

To infinity and beyond

At £14.8bn, the total level of UK space industry income in 2017 stood at 5.1 per cent of the global space economy. Broadcasting dominated, accounting for 51 per cent of revenues, followed by communications (19 per cent), position, navigation and timing (12 per cent), defence (8 per cent) and earth observation (3 per cent).

Several UK-listed companies are operating at the forefront of the space industry. No Western astronaut has ever been into space without Cobham(COB) kit, according to a company spokesperson. The Cobham space range is broad, and includes propulsion kit, communications systems, testing systems and computer processors. In Spring, Cobham Gaisler’s HiRel GR712RC processor travelled onboard a mission to the moon carried out by Israeli non-profit organisation SpaceIL, assisted by Israel Aerospace Industries. Cobham has also worked for over 30 years with satellite giant Inmarsat (ISAT), which is currently subject to takeover interest, and will provide Inmarsat with ground infrastructure for its I-6 constellation, due for launch next year. The constellation will extend satellite capacity for global safety services and mobile solutions. “By ensuring global availability of reliable safety services we can help save hundreds of lives every year,” says Paul Kahn, president of communications and connectivity at Cobham.

QinetiQ (QQ.) operates in similar areas to Cobham, producing everything for ground to satellite, from space security to avionics. Chemring (CHG), meanwhile, has a greater specialisation in component manufacturing, and produces Nasa-exclusive ‘standard initiators’, which provide an energy source for converting electrical signals into a gas pressure output, or high-temperature flame and hot particles. This exclusivity is governed by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which are designed to prevent US military technology from falling into the wrong hands. Chemring also produces a commercial variant of the product for non-Nasa customers, along with items including bolts, nuts and cutters.

Graham Carberry, a partner at merger and acquisitions specialist Livingstone Partners, estimates that $3bn-$4bn in venture capital money went into space over the past few years. “The main two areas where people have been investing are in satellite networks and launch mechanisms,” he says, citing SpaceX and Blue Origin as targets for particularly heavy investment. “Over the next few years we expect commercial to be bigger than military,” he adds.

Making room for space

Not everyone in UK aerospace is focused on space, though. In May 2014, Cohort (CHRT) sold its systems engineering and assessment (SEA) business’s space division to Thales Alenia Space, in a £5m deal. At the time of the sale, Cohort chief executive Andy Thomis said the deal “enables SEA to focus on its core defence and transport markets, and to build on its strong positions in naval communications, software, synthetic environments and other electronic systems”, adding that it “frees up resources and funding to pursue our growth strategy”.

Nigel Towers, Deputy chief executive and head of strategy, marketing and sales at Thales Alenia Space, said that Thales is looking for ways to ensure that space remains safe and open for travel.

“The growing concern, apart from any sort of military threat, is actually the potential problem of debris,” he said. “The lower earth orbits are getting very crowded, and it won’t take many accidents to make those non-functional.”

Mr Carberry, who was involved in the 2017 sale of Scottish cubesat manufacturer Clyde Space to Swedish space technology company AAC Microtec, cautioned against a “gold rush” into space, amid growing enthusiasm for the industry. There were 4,857 satellites orbiting the earth in 2018, according to Pixalytics.

“There’s probably a legislative and international angle that needs to be considered here,” he argues. “It’s a bit like fishing. If you go mental and catch every fish in the sea there eventually won’t be any fish at all. So for space to have a long-term future, particularly related to earth orbit, there has to be some sort of mechanism put in place.”

Two other giants of the UK aerospace and defence industry are involved in space, but not as a priority. Meggitt (MGGT) manufactures a range of sensors, valves and ducts for space vehicles. But a spokesperson said that “its exposure is minimal in a group context”, amounting to less than 1 per cent of total revenues. BAE Systems’ (BA.) space operations are predominantly US-based, and it supports space communication systems with mapping software, radio antenna design and electronics. It also works with the European Space Agency (ESA) on applied intelligence. But it does not prioritise the space industry either.

These companies seem to mirror a uniquely British attitude towards space. Our government viewed space, until recently, essentially through the lens of science fiction, according to Mark Hempsell, an expert at the British Interplanetary Society. He laments the overall British outlay on space, which has been “woefully, way, way, way lower” than the budgets of other developed nations. But it is part of manifest destiny, he argues, for us to be out there. Perhaps the likes of Meggitt and BAE will reconsider the virtues of the space market. Human survival may depend upon it. We return to The West Wing.

“Surely we can do it again,” President Bartlet tells his entourage. “As we did in the times when our eyes looked towards the heavens and, with outstretched fingers, we touched the face of God.”


BAE Systems continues to cooperate closely with the UK government, and forge relationships with foreign militaries. It recently began the construction of a dedicated training facility in Qatar to provide training for Qatar armed forces, thus extending its foothold in the Middle East and its training capability. Closer to home, the aerospace and defence giant unveiled a new vehicle protection sensor for armoured vehicles. BAE secured an order intake of over £8bn in 2018. While investors may have concerns over its involvement in the pan-European Eurofighter programme, which has been disrupted by a German embargo on the sale of arms products to the Saudi regime following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an order book stacked with long-term deals ensures that BAE remains a reliable long-term bet.


Ultra Electronics’ (ULE) shares have picked up after a torrid 2018 beset by profit warnings and an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into suspected corrupt business activities in Algeria by Ultra, its subsidiaries, employees and associated persons. Increases in revenues from US and international sonobuoys, along with a rise in demand for its radio and Air Defense Systems Integrator (ADSI) products from the US military brought about a return to organic revenue growth for the first time since 2011. But the SFO inquiry is still pending. Its aerospace and infrastructure has suffered lower demand for nuclear temperature products, and delayed orders in information processing at the now-disposed airport systems business. Maritime and land, meanwhile, was vulnerable to the effects of foreign exchange. There’s potential for further recovery, but we remain on the sidelines for now.

Space disruptors to watch

Satellites are one of the “great eight” technologies the UK government has identified as key to the nation’s economic future, making it an obvious sector to invest in. A lot of this new growth is created by exploiting the utilisation of smaller and lower-cost satellites to provide innovative contributions to the data economy. From conventional communication services to applications such as disaster monitoring and global tracking of ships; all have been activities successfully undertaken by new-start companies.

“However there are two potential disruptors that could dominate how space is used in the future. The first of these disruptors is the build-up of debris in low earth and geostationary orbits, which threatens mankind’s ability to use these key locations for commercial applications. The positive flipside is that systems that could help manage this problem are likely to have increasing value, and several commercial ventures are already involved in the area. The second disruptor is the (painfully) slow introduction of reusable launch systems, by commercial companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Reaction Engines. Current throw-away launchers are expensive ($10,000/kg into orbit), unreliable (more than 1 per cent crash) and need to be planned years in advance. You do not need to be the world’s greatest rocket scientist to appreciate this has a massive constraining effect on economic growth in space. Reusability has the promise to improve all these factors by an order of magnitude, making new applications such as space tourism, space energy generation and space manufacturing economically viable.”

Mark Hempsell – British Interplanetary Society

IC View

The space industry quite literally presents a market of limitless opportunity for aerospace and defence businesses, but some outfits seem unconvinced. ITAR represents a limitation on the commercial application of technologies provided to the US, for example, while financial commitment from governments, until recently, has been essential to the viability of space work. Space debris, in particular, poses an interesting market for companies with ambitions beyond earth. President Trump will ensure, too, that the military continues to have a role here. This will present an opportunity for defence contractors. (Source: Investors Chronicle)


02 May 19. Comtech EF Data’s Expansion of the Satellite Modem Product Line. Comtech EF Data Corp., a subsidiary within Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMTL) Commercial Solutions segment, has expanded their satellite modem product line, introducing more form factor choices, the SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx™ Software Defined Modems, and enhanced performance options. The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx Software Defined Modems are the latest generation modem solutions featuring extremely compact form factors and software options. The new modems can be integrated with a variety of platforms and provide an upgrade path to support future requirements. The modems are designed to comply with the widest possible range of U.S. Government and commercial standards, and are compatible with the largest number of satellite modems in the industry.

The SLM-5650C CyberLynx model is an indoor product that operates from -10°C to +55°C using conductive cooling. The heat is transferred from the electronics to the housing and then to an external mounting surface, such as a trailer wall. The SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx model is a true IP67 rated Outdoor Unit (“ODU”) that is designed to meet MIL-STD-810G and operates from -32°C to +65°C.

The modems offer unparalleled protection of critical network traffic using advanced physical layer waveforms and proven TRANSEC protection. The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx feature AES-256 TRANSEC that is fully compatible with Comtech EF Data’s new SLM-5650B and legacy SLM-5650A Satellite Modems.

In addition, the previously announced SLM-5650B Satellite Modem is now USARSTRAT Wideband Global SATCOM (“WGS”) certified, making it the ideal modem solution to enable protected communications for all WGS operators, including the United States Government and partner nations. The SLM-5650B Satellite Modem is targeted for critical commercial backhaul and government and military applications. It is fully compliant with MIL-STD-188-165A/B and fully complies with STANAG 4486 Edition 3, Annex E (“EBEM”). The SLM-5650B leverages the heritage and feature set of Comtech EF Data’s very successful SLM-5650A modem. The SLM-5650B supports backwards compatibility / inter-operability for existing SLM-5650A networks while providing enhanced performance.

The SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx Software Defined Modems and the SLM-5650B Satellite Modem are all commercially available. For additional configuration and pricing information on the modems, contact Comtech EF Data sales.

Jeff Harig, SVP Government Systems for Comtech EF Data, said building on the firm’s expertise with the installed and proven SLM-5650A and SLM-5650B Satellite Modems, the company has reduced the form factor (volume) of the SLM-5650C and SLM-5650C ODU CyberLynx approximately 90 percent, has doubled the processing resources, reduced the maximum power consumption by 80 percent and increased the functionality compared to the SLM-5650A. The proven performance of the company’s offerings translates into reliability, scalability, and adaptability while optimizing space segment for mission-critical communications for government, military and commercial applications. (Source: Satnews)


02 May 19. Comtech Xicom Technology Releases Their New 650W Ka-Band SATCOM HTS Gateway Uplink Power Amplifier. Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s (NASDAQ:CMTL) Comtech Xicom Technology, Inc. (“Xicom”) subsidiary, which is part of Comtech’s Commercial Solutions segment, has announced a new 650 Watt Ka-band amplifier for HTS gateway service.

The XTD-650KaL is a compact power amplifier designed for low cost installation and long life. Its antenna is mounted at the feed to minimize path loss. This new traveling wave tube amplifier (“TWTA”) offers 150 Watts of more power than the classic 500W Ka-band amplifier and features 215W of linear power at -19 dB Noise Power Ratio (“NPR”) across the 27.5 to 30 GHz frequency range.

The amplifier is available with Xicom’s SuperCool™ liquid cooling, which has many practical advantages over traditional air-cooled amplifiers including reduced heat load in hubs, flexible and more compact installation, ease of service and maintenance, higher reliability, ambient noise reduction and gain stability over ambient temperature. Power combining and redundancy architectures are also available.

Additional information will be available to system integrators by visiting Xicom’s representatives located on stand 1401, at Satellite 2019, May 6-9, in Washington, DC.

Mark Schmeichel, SVP and GM of Xicom, said the company’s new 650 Watt peak power amplifier is ideally suited to meet the market demand for higher power uplink amplifiers in support of high-performance geostationary Ka-band gateway applications. With the world’s first 650 Watt amplifier, the company continues to drive the market to deliver high-quality performance products and economical customer experiences. (Source: Satnews)


01 May 19. Mission Microwave’s High Power BUCs Go Into Battle to Support Warfighters. Mission Microwave Technologies, LLC has received orders from multiple government contractors to provide X-, Ku- and Ka-band Block Upconverters as components of complex SATCOM terminals in support of warfighters — the combined value of these orders was more than $12m in the first quarter of 2019.

Mission’s Stinger, Javelin and Titan products have been designed into families of terminals across X-, Ku- and Ka-band frequencies. The common form factor and interfaces of these products allow designers to create flexible platforms eliminating the need to re-engineer the implementation when missions change.

The products delivered by Mission Microwave for these programs include high performance Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) amplifiers for X-, Ku- and Ka-band terminals. These products rely on Mission’s patented GaN (Gallium Nitride) amplifier and BUC designs to support customers operating in harsh environments while reducing the Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) burden on the remote users. Mission Microwave has moved to the forefront of the satellite terminal industry in shipping high power X, Ku and Ka Band amplifiers and BUCs for mobile applications in ground, maritime and other applications in both government and commercial industry sectors that require reliability, performance and efficiency.

Francis Auricchio, President and CEO of Mission Microwave, said the company’s value proposition of smaller, lighter and more efficient high power amplifiers is enabling the firm’s customers to create highly portable, higher throughput terminals with lower power consumption than previous options. Mission Microwave’s customers rigorously evaluate the firm’s products and then select Mission Microwave to support their customers’ demanding requirements for reliability, performance and delivery. (Source: Satnews)


02 May 19. Mission Microwave Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer of highly efficient Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs) and Block Upconverters (BUCs) introduced new wide-band Ka-Band products at the SATELLITE 2019 industry event in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C. Mission Microwave has released a family of multi-band Ka-band BUCs to support LEO, MEO and GEO missions from a single switchable unit. Covering the range of 27.5 GHz to 30 GHz, these units will be electronically selectable in up to 6 bands covering current and anticipated frequency plans. The new products are enhancements to the existing product lines, which already lead the industry in high power Ka-Band BUC deployments for commercial and Government SATCOM terminals.

“Our customers presented us with the challenge of enabling a single terminal to be used on a variety of current and emerging satellite network architectures.  Satellite industry customers need a well-designed approach to accommodate the changing expectations and resources available to them. Our new wideband Ka-Band BUCs enable customers to design flexible terminals that can operate on traditional GEO satellites, existing MEO networks and the much-anticipated LEO constellations that are now in the early stages of deployment.” said Francis Auricchio, President and CEO of Mission Microwave.

Additional product announcements from the company include the introduction of a 150 Watt X-Band BUC in the Javelin package. This rounds out the Javelin product family with a common mechanical and control interface for the 150 Watt X-band, the 100 Watt Ku-band and the 50/100 Watt Ka-Band. Each Javelin BUC weighs under 11 pounds and is ideal for multi-mission terminal designs needing high power tri-band capability.  At the SATELLITE 2019 event Mission will exhibit its complete product line of high power X, Ku and Ka Band amplifiers and BUCs and will have example terminal designs from key industry partners on display in booth #809. Mission products will be on display across the venue incorporated into many industry-leading products from top-tier customers’ mobile and transportable terminals.


29 Apr 19. NSR Reports the Leader in Cellular Backhaul Shipments is Gilat. Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ, TASE: GILT) has gained a global leadership position in shipping products for cellular backhaul over satellite, according to an NSR report, 13th Edition, Wireless Backhaul & 5G via Satellite, that was published in April 2019. Gilat achieved a 35 percent market share in modem shipments for cellular backhaul over satellite according to the NSR report.

Market analysts are unified on the fast growing 4G/LTE satellite backhaul market. NSR reports the service, equipment, and capacity for this market at $820m in 2018 with an expected growth to $3,790m by 2028. NSR further reports that bandwidth pricing efficiencies will contribute to a growing demand for differentiated managed service solutions in rural areas, providing growing opportunities in the industry.

Gilat’s cellular backhaul leadership is most noteworthy with tier-1 MNOs deploying LTE networks throughout the globe. Such deployments include T-Mobile and Sprint in the United States, EE/BT in the UK, SoftBank and KDDI in Japan, Telstra and Optus in Australia, and Globe in the Philippines. Gilat has deployed full turnkey solutions providing managed services in numerous deployments in America and Asia.

Lluc Palerm, Senior Analyst at NSR, reported that with their innovative technology, Gilat has been able to lead the way for 4G over Satellite with deployments for Tier-1 operators of unprecedented sizes in the satellite space. As MNOs continue upgrading its rural networks into 4G, and eventually 5G, Gilat is strongly positioned to continue experiencing growth in Backhaul. Gilat technology is becoming a key tool for its network of partners to capture growth: MNOs experience extended reach adding new subs economically, satellite operators see growth in capacity leases as 4G services over satellite are enabled, and services integrators can tackle new customers with Gilat’s powerful network management tools. This translates into Gilat achieving the first position in modem shipments in Cellular Backhaul with a 35 percent market share in 2018.

Asaf Jivilik, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Gilat, noted that providing end-to-end cellular backhaul solutions over satellite is a strategic focus area for Gilat, and the company is pleased with NSR’s recognition of Gilat’s global leadership in this important market segment. Gilat’s future-ready cellular backhaul solution positions Gilat for further success and supports our vision of providing affordable, plentiful, high quality broadband connectivity. (Source: Satnews)


06 May 19. Walton De-Ice (www.de-ice.com), the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of satellite earth station antenna (ESA) weather protection solutions, announced that it has sold and shipped its new Walton Portable Radome product recently for deployment with a U.S. Government agency and a European defense agency in separate customer projects.

“The Walton Portable Radome unleashes new capabilities for deployment of satellite links into extreme environments and lets satellite networks protect their equipment in conditions such a high winds, sand storms, dust storms, hailstorms and torrential rains, as well as winter snow and ice,” says David Walton, inventor of the Walton Portable Radome.    “We are pleased that a growing number of large government and military contractor customers see the unique advantages that the Walton Portable Radome can enable for their end-customer’s applications around the world.”

The lightweight, rapidly deployable Walton Portable Radome protects VSAT, transportable, or fixed antennas and equipment from rain, snow, ice, wind, sand, debris and heat — making satellite networks more survivable and deployable into extreme environments.   An RF-transparent hydrophobic cover protects antennas and equipment under the Walton Portable Radome.

Performance and cost advantages of the Walton Portable Radome include:

  • Airline baggage checkable options let terminals go where other radomes cannot.
  • Rapidly assembled by a single person in less than an hour with no tools — unlike traditional radomes, which can require a crane, crew and days to install.
  • Operational in high winds, e.g. 85 mph (136 kph) depending on size — unlike inflatable radomes.
  • Heating or Air Conditioning options can protect equipment under the dome from damage in extreme heat.

Walton De-Ice showcased its Portable Radome and other solutions at the SATELLITE 2019.


29 Apr 19. FCC Approves SpaceX’s Plans to Fly Internet-Beaming Satellites in a Lower Orbit. The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s request to fly a large swath of its future internet-beaming satellites at a lower orbit than originally planned. The approval was a major regulatory hurdle the company needed to clear in order to start launching its first operational satellites from Florida next month.

In November, SpaceX sent a request to the FCC to partially revise plans for the company’s satellite internet constellation, known as Starlink. Under SpaceX’s original agreement with the commission, the company had permission to launch 4,425 Starlink satellites into orbits that ranged between 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers up. But then SpaceX decided it wanted to fly 1,584 of those satellites in different orbits, thanks to what it had learned from its first two test satellites, TinTin A and B. Instead of flying them at 1,150 kilometers, the company now wants to fly them much lower at 550 kilometers.

And now the FCC is on board. “This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband service,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.

SpaceX argues that by operating satellites at this orbit, the Starlink constellation will have much lower latency in signal, cutting down transmission time to just 15 milliseconds. The lower orbit also means SpaceX can get the same coverage with 16 fewer satellites, and the company argues the change will help cut down on space debris. At 550 kilometers, satellites are more affected by Earth’s atmosphere and are pulled out of orbit much more quickly than vehicles that are higher up. So if any of the Starlink satellites happen to fail and become inoperable, they should fall out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere fairly quickly.

Not everyone was happy about SpaceX’s updated plans, though. OneWeb, another company developing a large satellite internet network, and satellite operator Kepler Communications both filed petitions to deny SpaceX’s request for a change to the FCC. They both argue that since SpaceX uses similar frequencies, the Starlink satellites could interfere with their satellites if moved to a lower orbit. But ultimately, the FCC did not think interference would be an issue. “We find that the modification proposed by SpaceX does not present significant interference problems and is in the public interest,” the FCC wrote in its approval.

There were also concerns raised about an increased risk of collisions if the satellites changed altitudes, since other operators have satellites in similar orbits. But the FCC said SpaceX provided a statement to the commission about its plans for removing the satellites and the company claims its vehicles won’t be a risk since they will have thrusters and can maneuver out of the way of an approaching satellite in orbit. “We find no reason to defer action on SpaceX’s modification request as requested by certain commenters,” the FCC wrote. A recent NASA study found that satellites within these huge constellations will need to be reliably removed within five years in order to avoid a drastic increase in collisions. Ultimately, SpaceX plans to launch a total of nearly 12,000 satellites to provide internet coverage to every part of the globe. The company isn’t the only one interested in such a scheme right now. OneWeb already launched six satellites in February, the first batch of a planned 650 satellites to provide global internet coverage from low orbits. And recently Amazon announced an ambitious plan to create 3,236 satellites for the same purpose, under a new initiative called Project Kuiper. The clock is ticking for SpaceX to turn its Starlink constellation into a reality, though. The FCC’s approval of this constellation is conditional on SpaceX being able to launch at least half of these satellites within the next six years. SpaceX said in its November filing that it plans to beat that deadline. “Starlink production is well underway, and the first group of satellites have already arrived at the launch site for processing,” Shotwell said in her statement. SpaceX plans to launch its first batch of Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida sometime in May. (Source: Satnews)


11 Apr 19. Harris Corporation Celebrates Production of 100th Unfurlable Satellite Mesh Reflector.


  • Showcases company’s 40-plus-year legacy and significant lead over nearest competitor
  • Reflects unmatched commitment to invest and grow space antenna reflector technology
  • 100th reflector expands mission to gather information about the changing state of global forests

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) will celebrate a major space satellite antenna milestone – the production of its 100th unfurlable mesh reflector, which provides the critical communications link between satellites and ground stations. The company is the world reflector leader, producing significantly more than any other company over the past 40-plus years.

Harris employees, customers and other dignitaries will gather next week at the company’s Palm Bay, Florida, facility to commemorate the production of the latest reflector, which will support a carbon-monitoring satellite mission to study the changing state of global forests. Harris is manufacturing the reflector for Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company.

The 12-meter reflector will be the first space-borne, P-band antenna designed to observe annual changes in biomass – the amount of living matter in a given habitat – in most of the world’s forests, over multiple growth cycles. Studying biomass is important in understanding the Earth’s climate.

This milestone demonstrates Harris’ commitment to investing in and growing space antenna reflector solutions with unmatched on-orbit success and design options. Harris continues to invest in its technologies with more than $300m annual internal research and development – representing an industry-leading 5 percent of company revenue. The company began manufacturing space antennas in the 1970s.

“The production of Harris’ 100th unfurlable mesh reflector is a major accomplishment, and we’re excited to see it support an environmental mission with global impact,” said Tom Campbell, general manager, Space Antennas and Structures, Harris Space and Intelligence Systems. “This is a tribute to the more than 400 dedicated men and women who engineer and build these state-of-the-art reflectors at Harris.”

Chris Lloyd, Head of the Biomass programme at Airbus said: “Building the world’s first forest measurement satellite for the European Space Agency is a huge challenge – and this reflector will be a key element in helping to measure forest biomass and carbon on a global scale.”


At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield.  As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea.  Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight.  We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible.  And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.


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