United States: Space Business Review - February 2018

A monthly round-up of space industry developments for the information of our clients and friends.


On February 26, Airbus SE, Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Delta), OneWeb, Ltd., Sprint Corporation and Bharti Airtel Limited announced the formation of the Seamless Air Alliance, which plans to use satellite technology to enhance the connectivity experience of air travelers. By streamlining system integration and certification, offering open specifications for interoperability and simplifying and integrating billing methods, the alliance expects to be able to reduce the costs and eliminate the challenges associated with the acquisition, installation and operation of data access infrastructure. The goal of the alliance is to enable the provision of continuous high-speed, low-latency connectivity services to users worldwide, whether on the ground or in the air. The alliance hopes to add additional members in due course; Delta already announced that Gogo, Inc. will also be joining the alliance.


On February 1, DISH Network Corporation (DISH) announced that it acquired connected parking solutions startup ParkiFi, Inc. (ParkiFi) for an undisclosed amount. Based in Denver, ParkiFi has developed IoT-enabled, wireless, single-space parking sensors and gateways, which enable parking operators to monitor availability and guide drivers to open spaces. According to DISH, the acquisition is part of the company's 5G wireless broadband strategy, for which DISH is currently building out a national narrowband IoT network. DISH intends to draw upon ParkiFi's expertise in connecting lowpowered sensors with gateways to the cloud in order to support testing and learning as DISH deploys its IoT network, which is expected to be complete by March 2020. ParkiFi will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of DISH under the ParkiFi brand.


On February 9, SES. S.A. and Intelsat S.A. submitted together a proposal to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, seeking protection of established satellite services in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while also identifying roughly 100 MHz of that spectrum for terrestrial mobile use. The proposal represents a proactive measure by the two satellite operators to contribute toward the resolution of regulatory uncertainty relating to, and also to accelerate the deployment of, next generation 5G infrastructure and services.


January 31 – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched the GovSat-1 satellite (also known as SES-16) for GovSat, a brand operated by the LuxGovSat S.A. publicprivate partnership between the government of Luxembourg and SES S.A., on a flight-proven Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Manufactured by Orbital ATK, Inc., GovSat-1 will support civil and defense applications, including secure communications for Luxembourg's military operations, from the 21.5°E orbital location.

February 1 – A Russian Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle successfully orbited four Lemur-2 satellites for Spire Global, Inc., along with two Kanopus-V Earth observation satellites for the Russian government and seven other small satellites under federal and commercial contracts with Joint Stock Company GLAVKOSMOS.

February 6 – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) successfully conducted the first test flight of its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. The mission qualifies the Falcon Heavy as the most powerful launch vehicle currently operated in the world – the Falcon Heavy can lift nearly 141,000 lbs. into orbit – and will enable SpaceX to bid on NASA and U.S. Air Force contracts for the launch of satellites that are too large for SpaceX's other launch vehicle, the Falcon 9.

February 22 – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) successfully launched the PAZ satellite for Spanish government satellite operator Hisdesat Servicios Estratégicos S.A. (Hisdesat), as well as SpaceX's first two Starlink demonstration satellites, on a flight-proven Falcon 9 launch vehicle. PAZ is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus). Hisdesat and Airbus plan to operate PAZ with the German TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites to form a SAR constellation. Starlink is SpaceX's planned low- Earth orbit constellation of 4,500 satellites that will provide broadband services worldwide.


On February 14, Vector Launch, Inc. (Vector) announced that it was selected by Open Cosmos Ltd. (Open Cosmos) to perform five orbital launches between 2019 and 2023 using the Vector-R launch vehicle. Open Cosmos is an end-to-end space mission services provider that enables clients to focus on in-orbit data from a variety of nanosatellite missions. Vector's first orbital launch is scheduled for July of this year.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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