Space 

FCC chairman urges approval for SpaceX’s satellite internet constellation

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants his agency approve SpaceX’s 15-month-old application to serve the U.S. with its proposed megaconstellation. In a statement released just days before SpaceX launches its first two prototype satellites, Pai urged support of the company’s application within the FCC, saying Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX can help reach rural and isolated parts of the country with high-speed Internet. “To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies. SpaceX’s application — along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S.…

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Space 

Largest cubesat operators say 25-year deorbit guideline a priority

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Planet and Spire, operators of the two largest commercial cubesat constellations in orbit, say they manage their fleets to prevent retired spacecraft from lingering in space beyond internationally accepted guidelines. Speaking at the SmallSat Symposium here Feb. 7, officials from Planet and Spire said the companies have self-imposed rules to ensure their satellites burn up in Earth’s atmosphere within 25 years of shutting down, as suggested by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination (IADC) committee. Earth-observation company Planet has 200 satellites in low Earth orbit, making its…

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Space 

OneWeb spars with SpaceX, Boeing, SES and Space Norway over FCC coverage rule

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Federal Communications Commission requirement that developers of non-geostationary-orbit (NGSO) satellite systems provide full coverage of the United States to get market access has  prospective megaconstellation operators pitted against each other. The FCC, in a notice of proposed rulemaking that closed Jan. 29, asked for input on whether it should maintain the nationwide coverage requirement, noting that some proposed systems are not designed to reach all of the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. OneWeb, with investors Intelsat and Hughes, and Alaska’s governor were…

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Space 

Kepler confirms health of LEO Ku-band cubesat

WASHINGTON — Kepler Communications, a Canadian startup designing a low-Earth-orbit constellation for satellite connectivity, says its first satellite is performing as expected following a Jan. 19 launch on China’s Long March 11 rocket. Kepler’s cubesat satellite was one of six satellites that China Great Wall Industry Corp. launched from China’s oldest spaceport, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. Nicknamed Kipp after a robot in the 2014 sci-fi movie “Interstellar,”  the 30-centimeter by 10-centimeter by 10-centimeter nanosatellite is the first of two demonstration satellites Scotland’s Clyde Space built for Kepler,…

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Space 

FCC grants Telesat LEO market access despite ViaSat protests

WASHINGTON — Following market approval given to OneWeb in June, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Nov. 3 granted global fleet operator Telesat permission to reach the U.S. with a constellation of 117 low-Earth orbit satellites. Competitor and partner ViaSat of Carlsbad, California, which operates geostationary satellites and is awaiting FCC approval for a medium-Earth orbit system, had urged the FCC to deny Telesat’s filing, but was largely rebuffed. Canada-based Telesat is the second LEO constellation after OneWeb to receive market access from the United States. The FCC also granted…

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Space 

SpaceX, OneWeb detail constellation plans to Congress

WASHINGTON —  SpaceX and OneWeb say they are within months of launching the first satellites in their competing megaconstellations of broadband smallsats designed to bring internet to every corner of the globe. Testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Oct. 25, executives from SpaceX and One web provided updates on their constellation deployment, as well as steps they’ve taken to mitigate the risk of space debris from thousands of satellites they aim to deploy into low Earth orbit in the years ahead. First SpaceX satellites in “next few…

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Space 

ArianeGroup CFO Pierre Godart on Ariane 6 cost savings, micro launchers and reusability

BREMEN, Germany — Ariane 5 is one of the world’s most reliable launcher but its makers aren’t resting on their laurels. Following the 2015 creation of Airbus Safran Launchers, a joint venture between the two main contributors to the European rocket program, the company renamed itself to ArianeGroup and embarked on a journey through the quickly changing space industry landscape. ArianeGroup Chief Financial Officer Pierre Godart told SpaceNews at Space Tech Expo Bremen that lean management, as well as increased vertical integration, is the main drivers behind improving efficiency and…

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Space 

Q&A | Telesat’s Erwin Hudson opens up about LEO mega-constellation plans

WASHINGTON — Telesat is some three to five months ahead of OneWeb in launching low-Earth orbit telecommunications satellites, and barring a surprise launch from SpaceX, will likely be the first new mega-constellation to put hardware into operation. Two prototype satellites ordered in April 2016 are awaiting launch before year’s end — one on a Russian Soyuz and another on an an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle — paving the way for a larger constellation of over 100 small satellites. Telesat LEO is the biggest satellite project the company has undertaken in…

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Space 

ILS says Proton Medium will compete head to head with Falcon 9

MOSCOW — International Launch Services expects its new, scaled-down variant of Proton-M to be a more direct competitor with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket than the current heavy-lift version ILS has used for decades. Kirk Pysher, president of ILS, said the company is banking on Proton Medium as the company’s next step — a vehicle more important to the commercial sector than Angara 5, Russia’s modular, next-generation launcher, which ILS has commercial rights to like Proton. Angara 5 is optimized for heavyweight spacecraft as a direct replacement for Proton-M starting in…

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Space 

BT Global Services:  LEO, HTS boosting perception of satellite communications

LONDON — Satellites have been the option of last resort for telecommunication companies and their customers in the past decades, according to Renato Goodfellow, head of global satellite at BT Global Services. However, thanks to the development of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite mega-constellations and high-throughput satellites, the technology has a chance to become a less frowned upon element in the larger telecommunications ecosystem. “Our customers generally loath satellites,” Goodfellow said Sept. 11 at the VSAT Global conference here. “Unless they go to a location in the middle of nowhere, unless they…

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