Category: News

Small-satellite electric propulsion providers Exotrail, Apollo Fusion move forward in competitive market

PARIS — Two startup companies building electric-propulsion systems for small satellites — Exotrail of France and Apollo Fusion of the United States — have recently passed key milestones on the way to building their businesses.
Exotrail in December tested, for the first time, its ExoMG Hall-effect propulsion system in orbit, on a technology demonstration satellite built by NanoAvionics of Lithuania. Exotrail, using data from independent satellite tracer, reported a 700-meter altitude raise and an ignition that fired . . .
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Rocket Lab to OHB to Thales Alenia Space to the ITU to… a Ka-/Ku- band LEO satellite constellation

PARIS — A 50-kilogram satellite built by OHB SE of Germany and launched into low Earth orbit Jan. 20 aboard a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle has salvaged — in extremis — a radio frequency reservation by Thales Alenia Space that was filed seven years ago and was set to expire on Jan. 29, according to industry officials and regulatory documents.
These are the same Thales Alenia Space-registered frequencies that the now-scrapped LeoSat constellation project had been slated to use. LeoSat closed when it could not . . .
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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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Speedcast exiting Chapter 11 with $500M in equity after Centerbridge wins ownership battle with Black Diamond

PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Speedcast International Ltd. is expected to exit Chapter 11 by mid-March following the Jan. 22 approval of a restructuring plan by its bankruptcy court.
The ruling was made possible by a December settlement between Speedcast’s two largest creditors — Centerbridge Partners L.P. and Black Diamond Capital Management — both of which wanted to purchase Speedcast.
After a months-long series of maneuvers that delayed Speedcast’s exit from Chapter 11, it was Centerbridge that emerged the winner . . .
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With $6M second-round Primo Space-led funding, Leaf Space can complete global ground station deployment

PARIS — Italian ground-segment-as-a-service startup Leaf Space’s latest funding round of 5 million euros ($6.1 million) gives it all the cash it needs to complete its global network of 12 ground stations around the world by the end of 2020, Chief Executive Jonata Puglia said.
Milan-based Leaf has now raised 10 million euros. The latest round included a 2-million-euro investment from Primo Space, a new space-directed venture fund owned by Primoglio SGR.  The remaining 3 million euros was . . .
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With EU worries about its SpaceX Starlink deal in background, Microsoft Azure explains its satellite play

PARIS — European government officials recently said the partnership between Microsoft Azure and SpaceX Starlink is one reason the European Union needs its own global broadband constellation tethered to a European data distribution network.
These same officials either did not know or chose not to mention that before Azure teamed up with SpaceX Starlink, it had concluded a deep relationship with Luxembourg-based SES Networks’s O3b mPower constellation, to launch starting this year.
Other Azure partners include the KSat of . . .
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OHB stock tumbles as Airbus, Thales win combined $1.8-billion 2nd-generation Galileo satellite contract

PARIS — Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space each will build six second-generation Galileo navigation satellites for a combined contract value of 1.47 billion euros ($1.8 billion).
The contracts from the European Commission — for an average of 122.5 million per satellite — illustrate the leap in performance planned for the second-generation Galileo.
The detailed breakdown of the Airbus and Thales contracts, and their different design elements, was not immediately available to determine whether each is receiving a 50 . . .
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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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Kymeta questions SpaceX Starlink antenna cost, and warns GEO satellite operators on pricing

PARIS — The biggest questions surrounding SpaceX’s Starlink consumer broadband network relate to its ability to secure landing rights around the world, nation by nation, and the real cost of its system — especially its electronically steered phased-array antenna.
Satellite broadband hardware and service provider Hughes Network Systems has estimated that the Starlink antenna costs SpaceX between $1,000 and $1,500:
On Jan. 19, mobile satellite electronically steered, flat-panel manufacturer Kymeta . . .
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Indonesia confident ITU will OK Satria satellite deadline extension, starts shopping for interim 16 gbps

PARIS — Indonesian authorities said they are preparing a detailed statement to international regulators explaining how the Covid crisis has delayed construction of the Satria Ka-band broadband satellite and why Indonesia should be given a one-year deadline extension to put it into orbit.
They also said financing of the Satria satellite, the core of the $1.4-billion broadband deployment program managed by Indonesia’s Bakti agency, is about to clear final approvals from export-credit providers Bpifrance and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB.