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PocketQube pioneer Alba Orbital, in breakthrough export order, sells 2 satellites to U.S.-based Stara Space

PARIS — Alba Orbital of Scotland, in its first export, has sold two 750-gram PocketQube satellites to startup Stara Space of the United States, which is designing a communications constellation for secure data transfers with inter-satellite links. The launch, on a yet-undisclosed rocket, is scheduled for late this year on a flight-proven rocket, Alba said. The launch will carry five other...

French smallsat champion Nexeya adds Airbus to partnership ranks that include Thales Alenia Space, CNES

PARIS — Nexeya, which has been chosen by the French government to be a poster child for French NewSpace startups, has signed a partnership agreement with Airbus Defense and Space under which Airbus will be prime contractor and systems integrator for commercial smallsat constellations that would use Nexeya’s platform. The agreement, signed by Airbus Space chief Nicolas Chamussy and Nexeya...

Forced by Brexit, Inmarsat moves satellite/ground airline connectivity business to Luxembourg

PARIS — Mobile satellite services operator Inmarsat of London is moving its subsidiary responsible for the ground- and satellite-based European Aviation Network (EAN) business to Luxembourg as a result of Brexit. Inmarsat is one of two companies — EchoStar Mobile is the other — that received European Commission licenses to operate an S-band mobile satellite service to cover European Union...

Satellite aircraft-tracking startup Aireon secures debt package, makes Iridium payment

UPDATE JAN. 16, 2019: Aireon disclosed that the credit facility it secured in December totals $200 million and was provided by a group of investor funds led by Deutsche Bank. The company said the financing would enable Aireon to repay the $200 million in hosting fees it owes Iridium Communications. Aireon made a late-December payment, based on the Deutsche Bank facility, in December totaling $35...

Public equities are savaged, but SpaceX valuation continues upward

PARIS — The rapid decline in public equity markets in recent weeks apparently has not quenched investor thirst for shares in SpaceX, although what they’re investing in — a rocket builder or a global satellite-internet service — is difficult to discern. SpaceX has raised some $2.7 billion in 18 funding rounds since 2002, the latest being a $500-million Series J that was led by Scottish investment...

Kratos reports $65 million in space/satellite contract commitments, expects 4th-quarter growth

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, which has said its $200-million in annual satellite communications business was growing at 9-10%, said it had recently booked $65 million in multiple new contracts and customers’ exercising of existing contract options. Kratos’s space and satellite business is hard to gauge as it sits inside the company’s Government Solutions...

Soyuz/Fregat rocket carries 2 Russian Earth observation satellites and 26 ride-share smallsats into separate orbits

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Russia’s Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat rocket gave fresh proof of its viability for the fast-growing cubesat market on Dec. 27 with the launch of 26 ride-share satellites into two separate orbits from Russia’s new, commercially oriented Vostochny Cosmodrome. All 28 satellites were reported healthy in orbit and sending signals. The ride-share customers included Planet,...

U.S. Naval Research Lab to experiment with the 2 SpaceX Starlink satellites; follows Iridium, L3 contracts

ASPEN, Colorado – The U.S. Air Force’s $28.7-million contract with SpaceX to test different types of militarily useful broadband connectivity is the latest confirmation that many in the U.S. government believe SpaceX’s Starlink system is real. It also hints at what several designers of low-orbit satellite broadband constellations hope will be a major U.S. military commitment, if not before...

After 10 years, and now Swedish, Ovzon is poised to purchase its own broadband satellite

UPDATE Dec. 27:  CARBONDALE, Colorado: Ovzon AB’s board of directors has fully guaranteed the issuance of new preferential-rights shares to raise gross proceeds of 750 million Swedish krona ($82 million) to finance the equity portion of its Ovzon-3 satellite. The rights were sold at 29.7 krona per share, a 30.6% discount from where the shares traded on Dec. 21. Formal subscriptions will...

OneWeb, citing better-than-expected satellite performance, trims constellation by 33%

PARIS — OneWeb has concluded that its 900-satellite constellation of global broadband internet-delivery satellites can be cut by one-third, to around 600, following ground tests of the first satellites now coming off the production line, OneWeb Founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler said. The first 10 demonstration satellites are now finishing testing by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture of...

Eutelsat on satellite in-flight connectivity: Full of potential, but delivery is still bad

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat said the in-flight-connectivity market is still not delivering satisfactory service to commercial airlines and is ripe for new entrants that can do better. Eutelsat provides bandwidth on seven satellites, including the Ka-Sat Ka-band broadband spacecraft, for in-flight connectivity sold not directly to airlines, but through service providers such. One...

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