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Launch prices for smallsats on India’s PSLV rocket may be coming down

PARIS — The commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) charged about $28,500 per kilogram to launch 29 cubesats aboard its PSLV rocket on June 23, a price that appears to reflect a drop compared to previous missions. There is no such thing as a “standard” price for launches, even for large geostationary-orbit telecommunications satellites, for which an average per-kilogram...

50 small satellites seeking launch this year will not find a ride, UK’s Catapult says

PARIS — As many as 50 small satellites awaiting launch this year will remain grounded because of a lack of suitable launch-service options, and many that find a launch will end up in less-than-ideal operating orbits, according to Britain’s Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd. But in what may be a confirmation of markets’ tendency to overreact, the Catapult’s survey found more than 50...

UK’s Orbital Access wins ESA two-stage-to-orbit study contract

PARIS — Orbital Access Ltd. of Britain, which is designing a small-satellite launcher that would lift off from a horizontal runway under the belly of a modified jet airliner, has won a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to carry the project to system definition before a preliminary design review. The four-month contract is valued at 200,000 British pounds ($257,000). Orbital Access...

Roscosmos: Rocket reusability’s the future, but we can compete with SpaceX now

PARIS — The head of Russia’s space agency on July 4 said Russia will remain commercially competitive in launch services by cutting prices of a newly designed rocket by 20% — the same reduction he expects to see from SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9. In statements published on the Roscosmos website from an interview with Business FM, Roscosmos Director-General Igor Komarov said Russia’s Soyuz 5 rocket...

Ariane 5 launch for Inmarsat, Hellas Sat, ISRO returns Arianespace to pre-strike schedule

PARIS — Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket on June 28 successfully placed two telecommunications satellites into geostationary-transfer orbit in the rocket’s 80th consecutive success since 2003. More importantly, the launch — the fourth Ariane 5 in 2017 and the seventh mission for launch-service provider Arianespace — puts Arianespace back on its originally planned schedule for 12 launch...

SpaceX’s Shotwell: 1 Falcon Heavy demo this year; satellite broadband remains ‘on the side’

PARIS — SpaceX now plans an inaugural flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, with a SpaceX payload and no paying passengers, late this year and to begin commercial flights in early 2018 with an Arabsat telecommunications satellite, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said. In a June 22 appearance on the space show — http://bit.ly/2saRo0B — Shotwell said launch-pad availability in Florida is one reason...

SpaceX cuts flight-to-reflight time for Falcon 9 first stage

PARIS — Launch-service provider SpaceX has cut by more than half the time it takes to recover, refurbish and re-fly its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage after just two campaigns and expects further substantial time savings as it gains more experience, a SpaceX official told insurance underwriters. SpaceX has said its first reuse of a first stage, in a March mission to geostationary-transfer orbit...

Squaring the circle: Europe wants launcher autonomy and low launch prices

LE BOURGET, France — European governments on June 22 conducted a rare genuine public debate over whether Europe views autonomous access to space as a strategic priority and, if so, how far it will go to support it. As became clear, Europe is still not ready to accept all the consequences of labeling space launch as “strategic,” which usually means that financial considerations take a back seat....

IAI: Amos-6 failure sent message to Israeli government on satellite autonomy

LE BOURGET, France — The Sept. 1 destruction of the Amos-6 telecommunications satellite in a SpaceX Falcon 9 on-pad explosion may have been the wake-up call the Israeli government needed to secure a future for its domestic satellite industry, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Chief Executive Joseph Weiss said. In a June 20 interview here at the Paris Air Show, Weiss said a new Israeli government...

Arianespace valuation, $500 million. Rocket Lab, $1 billion: New Space thinking

PARIS — You know the power of New Space and the New Economy — as ideas, if not as business models — has reached a high-water mark when the former director-general of the European Space Agency seeks to explain the fact that a startup launch operator has a higher market valuation than Europe’s Arianespace. Jean-Jacques Dordain, who is now on the advisory board for the Luxembourg government’s...

Iridium thinking ahead to life after Coface loan, when M&A is possible

PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications expects to pay down its export-credit-agency loan early by taking advantage of favorable commercial financing markets to be able to acquire an Internet of Things (IoT) business, Chief Executive Matt Desch said June 13. Desch did not specify a given investment, but said Iridium would not refinance its $1.8-billion loan from...

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