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Spire doesn’t want to shed its hardware-building heritage, but does want to monetize it

LOGAN, Utah — As satellite fleet operator Spire Global has grown its business and diversified its portfolio into three separate data-service businesses, it might be expected the company would divest itself of its hardware-manufacturing side. Instead, Spire wants to keep it in-house, but monetize the capacity by offering it to other companies. Instead of focusing exclusively on the higher-margin...

Astro Digital reduces planned constellation by maximizing use of Europe’s Sentinels & Landsat 8 satellites

LOGAN, Utah — Startup Earth imaging constellation operator Astro Digital has scaled back plans for its Landmapper BC satellite constellation, concluding that by cross-calibrating with the U.S. Landsat 8 satellite and Europe’s twin Sentinel 2 spacecraft, the company can provide the same temporal resolution with five Landmapper BC satellites instead of the planned 10. Astro Digital Chief Executive...

Satellite- and debris-tracking startup LeoLabs closes $13M Series A round

PARIS — Space-traffic-monitoring startup LeoLabs has closed a $13-million Series A financing round led by WERU Investment and Airbus Ventures that will be used to enlarge its current two-site network of ground radars to monitor low Earth orbit. California-based LeoLabs, formed in 2016 as a spinout of SRI International, which was an investor in LeoLabs’ earlier seed round, is building a business...

Interview: Goonhilly Earth Station CEO Ian Jones says revenue ramp starts right now

FARNBOROUGH, England — Ian Jones leased the dilapidated Goonhilly antenna site from BT in 2011 with the not-obvious idea of making a new business out of it. In 2014 he purchased the site and its infrastructure to form Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd., upgraded the facility and negotiated an unusual contract using UK government money transferred through the European Space Agency (ESA) for a deep...

Satellite IoT startup Astrocast orders GomSpace propulsion units, awaits SpaceX/Spaceflight, PSLV launches

FARNBOROUGH, England — Startup satellite Internet of Things (IoT) constellation operator Astrocast of Switzerland contracted with smallsat manufacturer GomSpace of Denmark and Sweden for 10 cold-gas propulsion units for Astrotech’s 3u cubesats, confirming Astrotech’s progress toward deployment. The contract, valued at 450,000 euros ($528,000), follows an earlier contract for the same technology...

Interview: Audacy CEO Ralph Ewig

PARIS — Audacy’s June 6 operating license from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already had the effect of triggering a $4 million financing, in the form of equity-secured debt, from Horizon Technology Finance. That brings Audacy financing to far to $11.1 million, with backers including Fidelity Investments’ Eight Roads Ventures, InnoSpring Seed Fund, Metatron Global and...

U.S. regulators approve Audacy’s MEO-orbit satellite data-relay service, with conditions

PARIS — U.S. regulators on June 6 granted, with conditions, a license to Audacy Corp. to launch a three-satellite constellation of medium-Earth-orbit satellites to relay telecommunications data from constellations in low-Earth orbit to the ground, reducing the need for a network of ground stations. In granting Audacy’s license request, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected...

Brazil’s Telebras pursues satellite broadband deployment, but no new ViaSat imports pending higher-court ruling

UPDATE May 24: Telebras will be able to continue its satellite broadband deployment but will not be able to take import any additional ViaSat hardware until Brazil’s judicial system resolves the opposing views of two courts. PARIS — Brazilian national telecommunications operator Telebras will pursue its satellite broadband deployment partnership with ViaSat Inc. following Brazilian...

Brexit debate gets rough, invokes UK secure satnav service that could beat Galileo PRS to market

PARIS— The British Defence Secretary on May 21 reiterated that the government is investigating whether it should build its own positioning, navigation and timing satellite constellation in competition with Europe’s Galileo and ultimately the U.S. GPS network. The statement by Gavin Williamson comes in the wake of a UK Parliamentary hearing on the subject at which representatives of Airbus...

Eutelsat on refusing ViaSat broadband deal: Breaking up is hard to do, but has advantages

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on May 14 gave a detailed explanation for why it’s turning away from a partnership with ViaSat Inc. on a ViaSat-provided terabit-per-second ViaSat-3 satellite over Europe. But it left several questions unanswered. Eutelsat Chief Executive Rodolphe Belmer said the company’s decision to order the 500-Gbps Konnect VHTS satellite from Thales Alenia Space of...

Hotel California? Not at all, says Space Angels. Space-sector equity exits have been successful

PARIS — Nine years after angel and venture-capital investors began taking a serious interest in the space sector, it’s time for some of them to think of exiting their positions. How’s that working out? Very well indeed, said Space Angels Chief Executive Chad Anderson, whose combination angel/VC fund tracks private space investment since 2009. “When you get to exit? No kidding: The average exit...

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