Regional Roundup: July/August 2016

Top satellite industry news from around the world.

KTsat and SpeedCast to Connect 150 Maritime Vessels

SpeedCast International and South Korea-based KTsat have together received a new contract to provide global Ku-band maritime communications services to up to 150 maritime vessels. The service will be installed over the next 18 months.

SpeedCast has provided KTsat customers with access to its global satellite telecommunications service network for the past six years. KTsat, a regional operator, has intentions to enter the global market in the coming years. The company has two satellites pending launch, with the first scheduled for November this year, and the second in early 2017.

JAXA Leaders Take Pay Cut After Loss of Hitomi X-Ray Satellite

Three leaders of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have decided to take a 10 percent pay cut to their monthly salary for four months, effective July, following the agency’s decision to cease efforts to salvage the Astro-H, or “Hitomi” X-ray astronomy satellite. The executives taking this reduction include JAXA President Naoki Okumura, Senior Vice President Mamoru Endo, and Vice President/Director General for the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science Saku Tsuneta.

Astro-H / Hitomi at the Tsukuba Space Center, Japan, prior to launch.JAXA

JAXA announced its decision to give up on Hitomi in April after determining the most likely outcome was that both solar array paddles broke off the spacecraft at their bases where they are vulnerable to rotation. The agency thought it received signals from Hitomi three times after object separation, but concluded upon further evaluation that the signals came from elsewhere due to differences in frequencies.

The United States Air Force identified debris associated with Hitomi through the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) following loss of communications. JAXA determined that it could not restore Hitomi’s functions, and is reviewing all phases from design, manufacturing, verification, and operations to identify the causes that may have led to this anomaly, including background factors.

French Polynesia’s OPT Scales Up Capacity on Intelsat 18

Office des Postes et Telecommunications of French Polynesia (OPT) has signed a new and expanded contract for Ku-band satellite solutions on Intelsat 18, located at 180 degrees east. In 2008, Intelsat designed a Ku-band beam on the satellite for OPT to provide coverage to all of French Polynesia, including the Cook Islands. The new multi-year agreement will enable OPT to further expand its wireless infrastructure to meet growing mobile broadband and Internet needs from businesses and communities in the more remote islands of the archipelagos located in the South Pacific.

“Intelsat’s satellite solutions have enabled OPT to scale our network as the demands for internet and mobile broadband connectivity continue to rise,” said Jean-Francois Martin, president and CEO of OPT. “The optimized performance of Intelsat 18 provides a complement to our terrestrial infrastructure which will enable OPT to further extend its network, increase its business and, more importantly, provide reliable internet connectivity to the citizens of French Polynesia, reducing the digital divide between Tahiti and the remote islands.”

AsiaSat Wins Back-to-Back Contracts in Myanmar

AsiaSat has won two new contracts in Myanmar to provide satellite connectivity services. KBZ Gateway, a subsidiary of the Kanbawza (KBZ) group, one of the largest privately-owned diversified groups of companies in Myanmar, will use C-band and Ku-band capacity on AsiaSat 4 and AsiaSat 7 satellites to establish high-speed data networks across Myanmar. The company will also have access to AsiaSat 9 following its launch in late 2016/early 2017.

A KBZ teleport.AsiaSat

The second contract is with Seanet Myanmar, a growing satellite connectivity provider, for VSAT network services in Myanmar. AsiaSat 7’s high-power Ku-band coverage over Myanmar will support Seanet’s nationwide VSAT network for a wide array of broadband Internet, enterprise solutions and data connectivity services for its corporate, Small to Medium Enterprises (SME), government and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) clients.

“Myanmar is one of the key growth markets in the region. Advanced and high quality communications infrastructure is essential for the country’s sustainable economic development. We are glad to have this opportunity to contribute to Myanmar’s communications infrastructure expansion,” said Philip Balaam, VP of sales and business development at AsiaSat.

Airbus China Exec Becomes Eutelsat China CEO

Eutelsat Communications has appointed Philippe Lin to CEO of the group’s China office. Lin joined Eutelsat from Airbus China after 15 years as vice president and chief representative. Prior to Airbus he held executive appointments at Total, both in Beijing and in Paris.

Lin is a French national, a graduate of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) and Canada’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration Publique. He is tasked with steering the development of Eutelsat’s activities in China.

Panasonic Avionics Selects Arqiva to Provide In-Flight Wi-Fi

Panasonic Avionics has selected Arqiva, a communications infrastructure and media services company, to provide its hosting, connectivity and teleport uplink services via Telesat’s new High Throughput Satellite (HTS) Telstar 12 Vantage.

Through the multi-year contract Arqiva will deliver a range of mobility services for Panasonic, including in-flight Wi-Fi, which will operate around the clock from its Chalfont Grove teleport site near London. Signals are extended to the Panasonic Network over the Arqiva managed core network ArqNet, a 2.5 Tbps resilient transmission network.

Arqiva’s T12 Vantage 7.6 meter Earth station is configured to access the entire Telstar 12 Vantage frequency range and multiple beams.

Ariane 6 First Design Phase Now Finalized

Airbus Safran Launchers has finalized the first design phase for Ariane 6, Europe’s next generation launch system. The successful review enables the company to validate all of the Ariane 6 technical, industrial and programming characteristics.

Airbus Safran Launchers presented its conclusions regarding the Ariane 6 to the European Space Agency (ESA) in June. Following this step, Airbus Safran Launchers and all its European industrial partners are now continuing with launcher development at the planned rate.

Artist’s rendition of the Ariane 62 version of the Ariane 6.ESA

The first design review, called “Maturity Gate 5,” began on April 28, less than nine months after the signing of the development contract with ESA on August 12, 2015. The review enables Airbus Safran Launchers to confirm performance, schedule and operating costs.

“This success confirms all our undertakings to the European Space Agency and its member states, and means that we can make a firm budget commitment to the development and production of Ariane 6, for which the maiden flight is confirmed for 2020,” said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers.

Fox Networks Germany, SES Bolster Multi-Year Contract

SES Platform Services (SES PS) and Fox Networks Group (FNG) Germany have signed a multi-year contract for SES PS to continue delivering content management and provide playout services for all four pay-TV channels of FNG Germany. Previously, SES PS provided playout services for two channels — Fox and Nat Geo People — and extended the existing contract with FNG Germany. Under the new contract, the company will deliver additional playout services for the two additional pay-TV channels — National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild. SES PS will continue to provide content management services for these four channels.

FNG Germany is using SES PS’ cloud-based Fluid MAM to deliver content management and content delivery services to linear and non-linear platforms. The media management and logistics solution allows FNG Germany to monitor and control the processes via an interactive dashboard.

Airbus Defence and Space, ESA to Place External Payload Platform on ISS

The ISS Columbus module.NASA

Airbus Defence and Space and the European Space Agency (ESA) are starting a joint pilot project to establish a new external payload platform on the International Space Station (ISS). The platform, named Bartolomeo after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, will be attached to the outside of the European Columbus laboratory module in 2018, providing access to power and data resources for customer payloads.

Airbus Defence and Space and ESA envision the platform will be part of an end-to-end service designed to provide fast, cost-efficient and reliable access to the ISS for private and institutional users on commercial terms. The Bartolomeo all-in-one payload mission service is aimed at customers from areas including Earth observation, technology demonstrators, astro- and heliophysics, material science and new space flight applications.

PressReader Teams with Inmarsat to Bring News to Remote Locations

Inmarsat and PressReader have partnered to enable people working and living in remote locations to have access to an unlimited newspaper and magazine service. The partnership brings together PressReader, a premium publication solution, and Inmarsat’s global Inmarsat 4 satellite network for readers to access, share and talk about news.

“PressReader has more than 5,000 publications and a global reach of more than 300 million readers. The new satellite-enabled service uses Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service to access PressReader in areas with limited or no other connectivity. The service is a product of Inmarsat’s Certified Application Partner (CAP) program, which forms partnerships with third-party companies to develop applications and solutions that are compatible with the operator’s satellite communications networks.

“Our partnership with Inmarsat allows us to bring content to people who historically would never be otherwise able to access it,” said Igor Smirnoff, chief commercial officer at PressReader.

Aeromexico Launches Netflix Trial through New 2Ku Connectivity

Aeromexico is launching a pilot program to provide complimentary in-flight access to streaming video network Netflix. Netflix members onboard select Aeromexico flights within Mexico, Central and South America will be able to stream Netflix programming on their phones, tablets and laptops at no cost June 17 and through October 17.

Gogo’s 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi system, which launched on five Boeing 737-800 aircraft in Aeromexico’s fleet in April, is enabling the in-flight streaming trial.

Airbus Defence and Space Finishes PeruSAT 1

PerùSAT 1 at Airbus Defence and Space’s cleanroom in Toulouse, France.Airbus

Airbus Defence and Space has completed integration of Peru’s first Earth observation satellite, PeruSAT 1. The manufacturer finished the satellite for CONIDA, the country’s national space agency, in less than 24 months.

PeruSAT 1 is based on the compact AstroBus-S platform, and will observe Earth using a silicon carbide optical instrument system at 70 cm resolution. Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) of the instrument took about eight months, with the platform construction phase, satellite construction, and technical and operational system validation needing only five months each, respectively.

According to Airbus Defence and Space, the quick build time was made possible by the creation of the “Projects Factory,” a new and more integrated working organization in the company’s space system business unit. This new way of working reduces development and construction lead times for satellites up to 500 kg and optimizes their costs and schedule delivery, without reducing quality.

Hispamar Satelites Appoints Clovis Jose Baptista Neto as Chairman

Hispamar Satelites, the joint venture of Hispasat and Oi, has appointed Clovis Jose Baptista Neto as the new chairman of the board of directors.

Baptista Neto served from 2000 to 2015 as executive secretary of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), an entity of the Organization of the American States (OAS). From 2008 to 2010 he also served as director of the OAS Department of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Prior to that, Baptista Neto served as a special adviser to Brazil’s minister of communications, and as head of Anatel’s office of international affairs in Brasilia. His other past experience includes serving as chairman of the board of Telepisa from 1995 to 1998, representing Brazil in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) council from 1995 to 1999, negotiating on telecommunications services with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and carrying out technical and managerial functions of Embratel.

Italian and Argentine Space Agencies Renew Collaborative Agreement

The Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) and Argentina’s Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE) have signed a new agreement to renew their collaboration in space. The two space agencies emphasized their commitment to the Italo-Argentine System of Satellites for Emergency Management (SIASGE) through a letter of intent. SIASGE is designed to respond to the needs of civilian communities in the two countries as well as the international community, in the sectors of environmental risk monitoring and management, emergency management and applications in both the scientific and commercial spheres.

ASI and CONAE sign new letter of intent for collaboration in space.ASI

In the letter of intent, ASI and CONAE emphasized that, in the field of emergency prevention and management, the SIASGE satellite system represents an absolute priority in both countries. The agencies also committed to intensifying and strengthening bilateral cooperation in the space sector for peaceful purposes, and reiterated their mutual interest in promoting joint commercialization of SIASGE data throughout the world. Lastly, the letter of intent foresees a broadening of the SIASGE cooperation to the respective second generation satellite systems, Cosmo-SkyMed and SAOCOM.

ThumbSat Opens SmallSat Factory in Tijuana, Mexico

Experimental satellite manufacturer ThumbSat has opened a factory in Tijuana, Mexico for the production of small satellites and their associated components. The facility is fully operational and capable of producing circuit boards for satellites, electronic subsystems such as radio transmission boards, and customer specific payloads, including the new ThumbNet dongles, which will be one of the most advanced Software Defined Radio (SDR) receivers available anywhere in the world, according to the company.

The facility includes a clean room housing all of the equipment required to manufacture and assemble ThumbNet tracking stations and ThumbSat satellites as well as perform all of the required testing to ensure the satellites are ready for launch into space. Testing capabilities of the laboratory eventually will include hot and cold thermal cycling, three axis random and sine wave vibration, vacuum, and complete electrical and operational verification.

ThumbSat created its first circuit boards in April, and now has radio boards in Europe for extensive testing. Once verification is complete, the first of the quality model and flight model ThumbSat satellite boards will be produced at the Tijuana facility in June. The company expects production levels will eventually reach several hundred satellites and radio transmission boards, as well as several thousand SDR receivers, per year.

GMV Supports Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems Project in South Africa

GMV has provided support for Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS)-Africa — a project U.K. satellite operator Avanti is spearheading with support from the U.K. and South African space agencies. The project, which began in September 2015, has enabled the deployment of an SBAS demonstrator to show the potential benefits of this technology in southern and eastern Africa.

SBAS improves the positioning accuracy and integrity provided by any Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) such as GPS, Glonass, Galileo and BeiDou. SBAS has already been rolled out in the United States (WAAS) and the European Union (EGNOS), with similar initiatives also underway in other countries like India (GAGAN), Japan (MSAS) and Russia (SDCM). The SBAS-Africa demo, which concluded in April, used GMV’s in-house processing, correction-generating and integrity-monitoring system magicSBAS, a network of GNSS monitoring stations deployed throughout the region by NSL, and Avanti’s geostationary satellite Artemis. Avanti facilities at Goonhilly Gateway Earth Station in the U.K. supported magicSBAS, as well as a Cyprus ground station.

SES Sends SatMed E-Health Platform to Medical Center in Benin

SatMed in Benin.SES

SES has deployed a SatMed e-health platform at Centre de Dépistage et de traitement de l’Ulcère de Buruli (CDTUB) in Allada, Benin, to improve awareness and healthcare. Fondation Follereau Luxembourg (FFL) will use the satellite-based platform to communicate with doctors and medical experts around the world, access online training tools, and establish facilities such as video conferencing, data collection and analysis. The deployment is part of FFL’s efforts to establish a consultation office at CDTUB — which treated more than 700 patients in 2015 — to improve communication between patients and medical staff, raising further awareness of tropical diseases.

SES subsidiary SES Techcom Services created the SatMed e-health platform, for which the Luxembourg government and the Ministry for Cooperation and Humanitarian Action provide funding. The first deployment of SatMed in Benin successfully took place at the remote maternity hospital of Ahozonnoude in June 2014.

“We are pleased to partner with SES for this important project, which will allow early detection of symptoms in patients, significantly improving treatment and recovery rate,” said Violaine Alves, project manager at FFL. “Buruli Ulcer is often hard to detect by untrained people, particularly by the patients themselves or their parents, so raising awareness in the community with SatMed will be of utmost benefit.”

Lockheed Martin Completes Critical Design Review of Arabsat 6A and Hellas-Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1

Lockheed Martin, Arabsat and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have successfully completed a comprehensive technical review of the commercial communications satellites Arabsat 6A and Hellas-Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1. To achieve this milestone, Lockheed Martin completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) of the satellites and each subsystem, demonstrating the satellites meet technical specifications and are ready for the next phase of production. With CDR complete and manufacturing underway, the Lockheed Martin team will now move further into the production process.

The two satellites will provide television, internet, telephone and secure communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Arabsat 6A will be located at 30.5 degrees east and Hellas-Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1 will be located at 39 degrees east. Both spacecraft will be designed for a 15-year service life, and will be manufactured in Denver, Colorado.

Lockheed Martin is building the satellites based on the company’s modernized A2100 platform. The company has five modernized A2100 satellites currently under contract, which are designed for a host of missions and customers around the globe.

Es’hailSat Signs Satellite Pact with Qatar Civil Aviation Authority

Es’hailSat President and CEO, Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari and Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) Chairman Abdulla Nasser Al SubaeyPhoto: Es’hailSat

Qatari satellite company Es’hailSat, has signed a MOU with the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) to jointly develop satellite services. The cooperation agreement will see Es’hailSat providing satellite services to the meteorological department under QCAA.

Es’hailSat and QCAA also agreed to cooperate in joint investments in Earth observation satellites and the dissemination of data and information to stakeholders and other relevant local and international organizations. The agreement enables both parties to provide satellite communications in disaster warning and disaster management during emergencies.

Thuraya, Satlink Support Gasherbrum Expedition for ‘Walk On Project’

Thuraya and satellite solutions firm Satlink have teamed up to support the Walk On Project (WOP), a foundation that raises awareness and research funds for those with neurodegenerative diseases.

WOP climbers recently flew from Spain to Gasherbrum, a remote group of peaks located at the northeastern end of the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. Led by Foundation Manager Mikel Renteria, the Gasherbrum massif contains four of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks.

Thuraya Telecommunications has donated IP+ terminals and SatSleeves to help the Walk On Project adventurers stay in touch during their expedition. Weighing 1.4kg, Thuraya IP+ has speeds of up to 444kbps on standard IP and 384kbps on streaming IP with an integrated antenna. The SatSleeve+ clips onto smartphones and turns them into satellite phones. Users can make calls, send emails and messages, and use their apps directly on their smartphone.

To date, the Walk On Project Foundation has donated more than $295,000 to research on neurodegenerative diseases.

OneWeb Satellites Picks its First Three Subcontractors

OneWeb Satellites, the Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb joint venture tasked with building OneWeb’s constellation, has signed supply contracts with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) from Canada, Sodern from France, and Teledyne Defence from the United Kingdom. To equip each of the 900 satellites forming the OneWeb fleet, MDA will manufacture 3,600 antenna subsystems, Sodern will provide 1,800 star trackers, and Teledyne Defence will supply communications repeater equipment.

The addition of these partners follow’s OneWeb’s announcement of its Florida-based high volume satellite manufacturing factory. The space segment of OneWeb will initially comprise a constellation of 648 operational satellites and replacement satellites, all of which will be identical. Each satellite will weigh approximately 150 kg and will operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Arianespace and Virgin Galactic are scheduled to begin launching the spacecraft in 2018, after which the satellites will use electrical propulsion to reach their operational orbits.

Iridium Certus to Start Commercial Service in Mid-2017

Iridium plans to begin the commercial availability of its Iridium Certus service the second quarter of 2017. Iridium Certus is an upcoming satellite broadband communications service designed to enable global voice and data services to users and enterprises across all industry verticals. The Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) operator has signed manufacturing partnerships with specialists in different verticals, including Cobham, L-3, Thales and Rockwell Collins, for vertical-specific Iridium Certus products.

Thales Alenia Space’s representation of the Iridium NEXT constellation at the 2015 Paris Air Show.Photopointcom Thales

The L-band service relies on Iridium Next, the company’s next-generation Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation scheduled to begin launching this summer. Once fully deployed, Iridium Certus will eventually deliver speeds up to 1.4 megabits per second. Iridium has partnered with SpaceX for its series of seven launches, with 10 Iridium Next satellites deployed at a time per Falcon 9 rocket.

International Datacasting to Merge with Novra Technologies

International Datacasting Corporation (IDC) shareholders approved a merger with Novra Technologies. Shareholders of IDC will have more than 40 percent ownership of the combined company on a fully diluted basis. Approximately 53 percent of shareholders participated in a special meeting to decide on the merger.

IDC has a strong presence in U.S. and international markets with broadcast, enterprise and government customers. Going forward the company will become a subsidiary of Novra and will continue to operate much as it does today. The merger follows Novra’s 2014 acquisition of Wegener Communications, a global radio, television and digital signage product provider. Novra has a 25-year history of supplying satellite products to customers in the U.S., Asia-Pacific, Europe and Africa.

IsoTropic and Aterlo Create Multicast Satellite OTT Solution

Satellite communications provider IsoTropic Networks and Aterlo Networks, an OTT streaming video specialist, have collaborated to deliver High Definition (HD) video using satellite IP multicast. According to the companies, multicasting greatly reduces bandwidth strain and costs that ISPs experience when delivering video.

IsoTropic Networks teleport.IsoTropic Networks

“Unicasting, the current technology used, requires a copy of the video for every requester. That makes unicasting very expensive. Multicasting is a lot like broadcasting. Only one copy is needed for everyone to watch the video,” said Gerrit Nagelhout, CEO at Aterlo Networks. “Multicasting solves two problems: first, less bandwidth is used so speeds will remain higher; second, it makes delivering OTT streaming video to remote locations possible and affordable.”

IsoTropic Networks and Aterlo Networks worked together exclusively to produce an enhanced OTT content delivery experience to multiple clients around the world.

Air Force to Make Long Term Commercial Integration Cell at JSpOC

The U.S. Air Force is planning to formalize the creation of an intentional space for commercial satellite operators within the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). The pilot program for this presence, known as the Commercial Integration Cell (CIC), started in June 2015 and lasted until February this year. Originally planned for six months, the Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space), which runs JSpOC, extended the prototype CIC by a few months to compensate for delays that stemmed from the original setup and structure. Now, having completed the program, JFCC Space says it found the collaborative environment to be helpful for both government and commercial operators, and that a more permanent program is being planned.

Six satellite operators — Intelsat, SES Government Solutions, Iridium, DigitalGlobe, Eutelsat, and Inmarsat — participated in the CIC pilot program. They aided in boosting JSpOC’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) through the sharing of ephemeral data, such as spacecraft position and direction, and participating in different exercises. VS

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