Category: Launch Segment

Momentus founder Kokorich resigns under U.S. regulatory pressure, Dawn Harms named interim CEO

PARIS — Startup satellite last-mile carrier Momentus Inc., which is moving forward with an IPO via an investment from Stable Road Acquisition Corp. (SRAC), has accepted the resignation of its CEO, Mikhail Kokorich, and appointed former Chief Revenue Officer Dawn Harms as interim CEO.
The decision came as it became clear to SRAC that keeping Kokorich at his post was roadblock to clearing U.S. government national security and foreign-ownership concerns.
Kokorich, a Russian national who has been seeking asylum in the United States . . .
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ESA modifies Galileo ground segment after outages, prepares Galileo launches and 2nd generation satellite contracts

PARIS — Europe’s Galileo positioning, navigation and timing network is preparing to launch the last 12 first-generation satellites, sign contracts with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for 12 second-generation spacecraft — which look nothing like their predecessors — while it grapples with a ground segment that has caused two outages, in July 2019 and December 2020.
At the same time, the network management is gradually transitioning to the European Union Agency for the Space Program, which will take on more responsibility alongside Galileo’s . . .
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Finally, a coherent European launcher reply to the Why-aren’t-you-like-Elon question

PARIS — Elon Musk was as much a part of the background music of young European aerospace engineers’ school years as Green Day or Coldplay.
Now in the business, they’re confronting the fact that maybe a European SpaceX is not possible, or even desirable, depending on how one looks at industrial policy.
But understanding that doesn’t mean they’re not on the defensive at every space policy conference in Europe, just like their elders, when faced with the inevitable Why-can’t-you-be-like-Elon . . .
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EU Commission’s broadband constellation meets industry reservations about co-investment

PARIS — The European Commission is saddling its proposed broadband satellite constellation with so many missions and deadlines that one European industry official suspected the commission may be trying to scuttle its own initiative.
A kinder interpretation is that the Commission is wrestling with a new and difficult project and still testing ideas to see which catch on with prospective government and industry investors.
Whatever the motivation, a series of briefings Jan. 12-13 featuring industry concerns about the constellation’s business case and the Commission’s piling . . .
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EU Commissioner Breton: LEO broadband proposal this year, olive branch to ESA, a warning on launchers

PARIS — European Commissioner Thierry Breton said he intends present a full proposal for a European broadband/secure comms/Quantum Communications satellite constellation this year to the European Parliament and the European Council.
Breton said expected financial contributions from individual European governments, from the 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA) and from the private sector as part of a public-private partnership.
Takeways from Breton’s Jan. 12 speech and press briefing:
— He wants to move . . .
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Momentus, Stable Road Acquisition Corp. say merger & IPO to proceed despite 6-month proof-of-concept mission delay

PARIS — Space sector investors’ risk tolerance will be tested in the coming weeks as startup Momentus Space and its investor partner, Stable Road Acquisition Corp., proceed with a merger and public stock offering before Momentus has demonstrated its water-powered, last-mile satellite delivery technology.
California-based Momentus had already survived a regulatory scare in November when the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Service Sector asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  on Nov. to defer a . . .
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Arianespace: 2020 revenue ~ $1.23 billion, backlog $3.6 billion; smallsat market still a dubious business case

PARIS — Launch-service provider Arianespace expects to report revenue of 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in 2020 with no material losses and a backlog as of Dec. 31, 2020 of 3.2 billion euros, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said.
The company, 74% owned by ArianeGroup, said 60% of its backlog is for commercial customers, with 40% for governments, reflecting a long-standing characteristic of Arianespace that sets it apart from its U.S., Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian competitors.
The predominance of commercial . . .
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CNES President Le Gall: Behind today’s ‘private sector’ successes, in US and in Europe, is government support

PARIS — The French space agency, CNES, will have $3.3 billion to work with in 2021 following a slight increase in its conventional annual budget, after accounting for debt repayment, and a $448 million share of France’s Covid pandemic Recovery Plan.
It’s hard to argue with CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall’s declaration that the French government has demonstrated its belief in space technology as a vector for strategic autonomy and economic stimulus — even when much of the rest of the French economy has been laid . . .
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Space insurers book 3rd straight money-losing year. Market volatility may mean 100% premium hike in 2019 is not enough

LANRELAS, France — Space insurers recorded their third straight money-losing year in 2020 with the combination of a low number of insured launches to geostationary orbit and the lingering effect of low insurance premiums.
While several insurance underwriters have left the space market or reduced their exposure to it, those that remain said a large rate increase in late 2019 and early 2020 is holding firm, raising the likelihood of a return to profitability.
Space insurance has been a good business over the past 20 years, only six of . . .
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Why can’t Europe be like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab? There are good reasons, none of them satisfying

LANRELAS, France — The decision by European Space Agency (ESA) governments to spend another $267 million to finance Ariane 6 rocket delays raised anew a now-systematic question asked of ESA and to the European Commission: Why can’t Europe be like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Rocket Lab, and develop reusable rockets?
From the commission, the answers have been vague, focused on NewSpace small-launcher startups that might somehow develop cost-effective rockets. As a result, while the Commission wants to be seen as . . .
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