Space 

Telesat to announce manufacturing plans for LEO constellation in coming months

TORONTO — Telesat, with one demonstration satellite for its planned broadband satellite constellation in orbit, expects to announce plans for manufacturing the full system in the coming months as it seeks partners to help fund its development. Speaking at the Canadian SmallSat Symposium here Feb. 15, Erwin Hudson, vice president of Telesat LEO, said the company was currently reviewing proposals for the 117-satellite constellation submitted by a number of major satellite manufacturers. “We’ve spent the last several months digging through” about 5,000 pages of proposal documents, he said. Those reviews…

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Science 

SpaceX launch: Elon Musk to send internet satellites into space THIS WEEKEND

After achieving huge success with Falcon Heavy, space entrepreneur Mr Musk hopes to now build a worldwide broadband network with satellites after approval was given by the top US communications regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said: “Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fibre optic cables and cell towers do not reach.” This weekend’s main launch involves a PAZ satellite being blasted skyward for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain. Along with the observation satellite, two demonstration ones –…

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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 

International ground stations tricky for smallsat operators to license

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Small satellite operators wanting to build ground stations in multiple nations to connect with their satellites are finding it complicated dealing with different sets of regulations. Those regulations vary to the point that trying to establish a ground station in one country might create disagreements between different nations over how those stations are controlled, industry representatives said Feb. 6 at the SmallSat Symposium here. For NOAA’s licensing office for remote sensing satellites, the increasing globalization of the space industry means more countries are starting to regulate…

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Space 

SoftBank interested in more satellite, OneWeb-related investments

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — SoftBank is actively considering future investments in the satellite industry, including investments related to low-Earth orbit broadband startup OneWeb, the head of SoftBank’s merger and acquisition and corporate finance division said today. Alex Clavel, executive vice president at SoftBank, said the Japanese tech giant, which in December 2016 invested $1 billion in OneWeb, is “very actively looking at new opportunities for OneWeb,” as well as “new opportunities throughout the smallsat space, and advances in manufacturing and communications.” OneWeb is building a first-generation constellation of 900 high-throughput,…

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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 

Solar panel suppliers adjust to GEO satellite slowdown

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2018 issue of SpaceNews magazine. Suppliers of solar panels and related equipment for the space industry are pivoting to serve customers planning satellites for low and medium Earth orbits as the slow down in geostationary satellite orders persists. Commercial satellite operators ordered just seven geostationary telecommunications satellites in 2017 — well below the 20 to 25 orders considered normal in years past. Orders for 2016 and 2015 topped out in the teens (still below average, but better than last year). Space solar…

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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 

Effective Space signs first contract for satellite life extension services

WASHINGTON — Effective Space, a U.K.-headquartered company developing spacecraft to extend the life of communications satellites, announced Jan. 17 that it has signed its first contract with an undisclosed customer. Effective Space said the contract, with a “major regional satellite operator,” covers the launch of two of its Space Drone satellite life extension vehicles in 2020, which will dock with two of the customer’s existing satellites to provide stationkeeping and attitude control capabilities. The company said the multi-year contract has a total value of more than $100 million. In an…

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Space 

Ariane 5 down to two dozen launches before Ariane 6 takes over

WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace expects to conduct just 23 more Ariane 5 launches before the next-generation Ariane 6 becomes its primary rocket. The final Ariane 5s will launch between 2020 and 2022, overlapping with the first three years of Ariane 6 missions. Arianespace ordered the final 10 Ariane 5 boosters Jan. 9, placing a billion-plus euro contract with ArianeGroup to build the rockets while spinning up the first Ariane 6 rockets. Currently a mainstay of the space launch sector, the Ariane 5 has launched 96 times since debuting…

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