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ArianeGroup: Big work force reduction needed given commercial, government market demand

PARIS — The prime contractor for Europe’s Ariane rockets on Nov. 13 outlined why and how it plans to cut its work force by 25% over four years given the transition from Ariane 5 to Ariane 6, a still-depressed heavy-lift commercial satellite market and the inability of European governments to make specific commitments to using Ariane 6. ArianeGroup’s statement is in response to the publication by...

ArianeGroup union ‘flabbergasted’ by planned 25% work-force reduction

PARIS — Government and industry managers of Europe’s new Ariane 6 heavy-lift launcher have never been willing to drop the other shoe, until now. Since Ariane 6 was decided — at a cost of 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) to participating European Space Agency governments and another 400 million euros from its industrial contractors — the focus was always on reducing per-launch costs and thus prices...

Rocket-builder Avio, with market and government tailwind, reports increased revenue & EBITDA

PARIS — Launch-vehicle manufacturer Avio SpA reported double-digit increases in revenue, EBITDA and EBIT for the nine months ending Sept. 30 and said its year-end backlog will approach 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion). The company said its Vega-C rocket, a more-powerful version of the Vega vehicle now in operation, is on schedule to debut in 2019, a year that will also inaugurate Vega’s SSMS...

SpaceX wants regulators to OK lower-orbit, all-Ku-band deployment for 1,584 satellites

LONDON — SpaceX has asked U.S. regulators to allow the company to modify its Starlink satellite broadband constellation to operate a first generation of satellites at lower orbit, using only Ku-band, while developing dual Ku-/Ka-band antennas for future satellites. The company said the new orbital architecture would allow it “to begin populating a new orbital shell before the end of 2019,”...

Zero 2 Infinity balloon-aided satellite-launch system falls short in crowdfunding campaign

PARIS — Spanish launch-service startup Zero 2 Infinity was unable to reach its goal of raising $1.3 million in a crowdfunding campaign but said it’s a small setback that will not materially affect the company’s operations. Managed through CrowdCube, the campaign closed Oct. 22 after five months, and investors will be refunded their contributions. Zero 2 Infinity is developing a balloon-launch...

Startup UK horizontal-launch service provider Orbital Access seeks crowdfunding

PARIS — British startup horizontal launch services provider Orbital Access has started a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of collecting $2.7 million in investment that will trigger a grant from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA). The campaign is managed through Space Starters and is scheduled to end in early January. Orbital Access’s business plan appears to assume that...

Sky and Space Global, GomSpace complete CDR for M2M/IoT satellite constellation

PARIS — Startup narrowband satellite M2M/IoT service provider Sky and Space Global (SAS) said it the prime contractor of its planned 200-satellite constellation, GomSpace of Denmark, and completed the satellites’ critical design review. Launches are planned starting in 2019, with the full constellation to be in service in 2020. SAS is registered in Britain but its stock is traded on the...

Question for ESA ministers: Are you paying attention to the U.S. Air Force?

LES MUREAUX, France — European Space Agency (ESA) governments will meet Oct. 25 in the middle of nowhere outside Madrid — aka Villafranca — to discuss policy objectives including partnerships with New Space startups, a stronger relationship with the European Union and a new program on space safety and security, ESA Director-General Jan Woerner said. One of the more immediate issues facing ESA...

For Europe’s space industry, New Space + U.S. government is a direct challenge

PARIS — Europe’s space industry association has concluded that the U.S. government’s new space policy poses a direct challenge to Europe’s “competitiveness and freedom to act in space” and must be countered by European governments. ASD-Eurospace is specifically concerned that one or more global broadband satellite constellations in low Earth orbit will receive “massive U.S. government support...

Customer Spire to launch providers: Price is secondary, cool hardware is beside the point

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — One of the biggest builder/operators of cubesats on Oct. 9 told launch-launch-service providers that customers don’t care about their cool engineering, and that even low prices are not as crucial as they might seem. Jenny Barna, launch director at Spire Global, said schedule reliability ultimately is more important than price given the non-rocket-related costs that...

Small-satellite launch provider Firefly Aerospace: On track for December qual test

UPDATE Oct 10: Firefly and York Space Systems said York announce MoU on future launch systems. Firefly’s Alpha rocket could accommodate up to four of York’s S-Class platform, 3-axis-stabiliized, up to 85 kg of payload, 100W average power. PARIS — The next 18 months are “Prove It” time for launch-service startup Firefly Aerospace Inc. The company’s Alpha vehicle — 630 kilograms to a...

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