Regional Roundup: September 2015

Top satellite industry news from around the world

SSL Picks GMV for Bank Rakyat Indonesia’s BRIsat Control Center

Space Systems Loral (SSL) has selected GMV to install the control center for Bank Rakyat Indonesia’s (BRI), upcoming satellite, BRIsat. SSL is building the satellite on its SSL 1300 platform, which — equipped with C- and Ku-band transponders — will enable communications across BRI’s 11,000 branches throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

GMV has worked with SSL 1300-based satellites several times in recent years. The company will develop and install BRIsat’s control center, including the real-time telemetry and command processing system based on its Hifly product, plus the flight dynamics system based on focus suite and the ground segment control and monitoring system.

Arianespace is the launch provider for BRIsat, which is slated for a 2016 mission atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Test firing of ISRO’s high thrust cryogenic rocket engine.ISRO

ISRO Tests High Thrust Cryogenic Rocket Engine

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) completed a hot test of a high thrust cryogenic rocket engine for a duration of 800 seconds. The engine generated a nominal thrust of 19 tons and ran for approximately 25 percent more time than the engine burn required for flight.

ISRO is designing the engine to power the cryogenic stage (C25) — the upper stage of the next generation Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-3 — capable of launching 4-ton-class satellites. The space agency’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC) created the engine.

Optus Extends Service Contract with Australian Departmen of Defense

Optus Satellite and the Australian Department of Defense have reached an agreement to extend their Optus C1 satellite managed service contract until 2020. Optus has provided satellite services to Australia’s Department of Defense since the launch of Optus C1 in 2003, which both organizations jointly funded.

Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Optus controls the Optus C1 satellite from its Sydney-based Earth station.

ILS Starts Selling Angar 1.2 Launches

Russia’s Angara 1.2 rocket.Russian Ministry of Defence

International Launch Services (ILS) is now actively marketing the Angara 1.2 launch vehicle along with the flagship Proton rocket, expanding the company’s range of launch options. Built by Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center (Khrunichev), the majority owner of ILS, the Angara 1.2 can lift three metric tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). ILS is marketing the rocket for low and medium-lift missions, while Proton will meet heavy lift requirements.

The first Angara 1.2 vehicle will be available for launch in 2017. Launches will be conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia. Angara 1.2 completed a successful flight demonstration on July 9, 2014 from the Plesetsk launch site, followed by the first flight of Angara 5 heavy-lift variant on Dec. 23, 2014.

SpeedCast Buys Up NewSat’s Teleport and Satellite Services Business

SpeedCast International has acquired the assets of the teleport and satellite services business from the financially troubled NewSat. The assets include the land and buildings at NewSat’s teleport facilities in Adelaide and Perth, Australia, the associated plant and equipment, as well as most of the customer and supplier contracts. SpeedCast is also retaining 20 key employees, in the operations and engineering department and in sales, including in the United States.

UrtheCast Acquires Deimo Imaging for $83 Million

UrtheCast has announced the acquisition of Elecnor’s Earth observation business Deimos Imaging for an aggregate price of €76.4 million ($83 million). Through the purchase, UrtheCast gains ownership and operation of the Deimos 1 and Deimos 2 satellites as well as operations related to the collection, storage, processing, analysis, distribution, and licensing of imagery captured by these and other satellites.

Earlier this year UrtheCast partnered with SSTL and Elecnor Deimos Space to build a constellation of 16 optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites. The combination of UrtheCast and Deimos operations is expected to significantly accelerate UrtheCast’s strategies related to distribution, Web platform development, and the building out of the constellation. Deimos 1, launched in 2009 for a 10-year mission, has a collection capacity of more than 5 million square kilometers per day, and collects 22-meter resolution, three-band imagery with a 650-km swath. The Deimos 2 satellite launched in 2014 for a seven-year mission, is capable of collecting more than 150,000 square kilometers per day, taking 75 cm pan-sharpened images, with a swath of 12 km.

Johann-Dietrich Woerner Takes the Helm at ESA

Johann-Dietrich Woerner, ESA’s new director general.ESA

Johann-Dietrich Woerner has begun his new role as director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), which is headquartered in Paris, France. The ESA Council unanimously appointed Woerner in December 2014 for a period of four years.

Previously, he was chairman of the executive board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), from March 2007 to June 2015. Woerner succeeds Jean-Jacques Dordain, whose term of office ended on June 30. Dordain is ESA’s longest-serving director general, who led the agency since July 2003.

At the DLR, Pascale Ehrenfreund, research professor of space policy and international affairs at the Space Policy Institute in Washington D.C., was appointed to succeed Woerner as the new chair of its executive board.

Sky Deutschland Bulks Up On SES Capacity for Ultra-HD

Sky Deutschland has secured additional capacity from SES for Ultra-HD broadcasts on Astra at 19.2 degrees east. Ultra-HD delivers four times the resolution of today’s HD TV, along with other improvements in visual quality. Europe is a frontrunner for Ultra-HD, along with North America and parts of Asia.

“The agreement with SES gives us planning security in terms of capacity so that we can continue to develop Ultra-HD and get it ready for the market,” said Holger Ensslin, chief officer of legal, regulatory affairs and distribution at Sky Deutschland.

Arianespace Opens New Fregat Fueling Facility for Soyuz Rockets

Arianespace’s new Fregat Fueling Facility (FCube).Arianespace

Following the completion of a design and construction phase that lasted slightly more than two years, Arianespace has inaugurated its new Fregat Fueling Facility (FCube) at Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The building, constructed mostly by local contractors, met its quality, budget, and schedule requirements, and is expected to reduce the length of a Soyuz launch campaign by more than a week.

The FCube fueling facility is located at the Soyuz launch complex, and will help optimize the operation of the three launch systems deployed by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center: Ariane 5, Soyuz, and Vega.

Airbus Defence and Space Signs Contract for Quantum Satellite with Eutelsat and ESA

Airbus Defence and Space has signed the first contract for the Eutelsat Quantum satellite with Eutelsat and the European Space Agency (ESA). The Quantum satellite will be able to adapt to new demands in coverage, bandwidth, power, frequency configurability, and change its orbital position.

Airbus Defence and Space will build the satellite in the United Kingdom with a new small satellite platform from SSTL called the Geostationary Minisatellite Platform (GMPT).

Axesat Signs Intelsat Epi NG Deal

Axesat, one of Colombia’s key providers of satellite-based corporate networks has reached a new multiyear agreement with Intelsat for services on the EpicNG High Throughput Satellite (HTS) Intelsat 29e. Under the agreement, Axesat will consolidate services spread across multiple satellites and operators, including Intelsat 805 and Intelsat 14, onto Intelsat 907 at 332.5 degrees east and Intelsat 29e at 310 degrees east. Axesat plans to use Intelsat satellite services to support the growing needs of its corporate enterprise customers as well as its cellular backhaul customers throughout Latin America.

Under construction by Boeing, Intelsat 29e is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2016 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite is equipped with a combination of high-power Ku-band spot beams and wide beams, and has an open architecture design with backward compatibility.

Axesat intends to use Intelsat’s satellite services to boost efficiencies and grow its business into new geographic markets. The company entered the market of Mexico through the acquisition of then Satmex subsidiary Enlaces Integra in 2013, and has seen a steady growth in demand for cellular backhaul among other services.

Bolivia’s Space Agency Teams with Gilat for Tupac Katari Satellite Program

Artist’s rendition of the Tupac Katari satellite.ABE

The Bolivian space agency, Agencia Boliviana Espacial (ABE), has placed an initial order with Gilat for a SkyEdge 2-c hub, high-throughput Gemini Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), SatCare maintenance and training as the basis for a national VSAT platform for its Tupac Katari satellite program.

The Tupac Katari satellite, built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), is Bolivia’s first communications satellite. China launched the spacecraft aboard a Long March 3B carrier rocket in December 2013. ABE was responsible for securing the launch, and is charged with the management and use of the national satellite.

Via Direta Picks iDirect Evolution for Brazilian E-Learning Program

Via Direta Telecom, a subsidiary of TV and radio broadcast group Rede Tiradentes de Telecomunicações, has selected VT iDirect’s Evolution platform to support Brazil’s largest distance-learning program.

The Amazon State’s secretary of education has commissioned Rede Tiradentes to create a distance-learning program to reach the entire country. The program will use satellite to connect roughly 45,000 students situated across hundreds of municipalities along the rivers of the Amazon basin.

NASA, AEB Ink New Partnerships

AEB President Jose Raimundo Braga Coelho, left, and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) have signed agreements to further research into heliophysics and space weather, and to enhance global climate study and educational opportunities. The new partnerships build on a framework agreement between the U.S. government and the Brazilian government on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Brazil will now have access to, as well as the ability to process, space weather data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission. In addition, the agreement enables Brazilian participation in missions studying the sun’s impacts on Earth’s space environment such as the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission. Space weather affects satellites in orbit and can also impact electronics on the ground in more extreme cases.

Anatel Approves Blue Sky Network’s HawkEye 7200

Blue Sky Network (BSN), a global provider of satellite tracking and fleet management solutions has gained certification from Anatel, the Brazilian national telecommunications agency, for its HawkEye 7200 (HE7200) portable Iridium satellite tracking solution.

All of BSN’s products are integrated into its SkyRouter cloud-based back end Web portal, where tracking and communications as well as device management are controlled and viewed.

AfDB Awards Hughe Expansion Contract

Hughes Network Systems received a contract from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to expand its provision of managed Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) services.

AfDB has been a Hughes managed services customer since 2008, employing a primary communications network of broadband satellite terminals installed at 32 AfDB field offices throughout Africa. In 2013, AfDB expanded its managed services to include MPLS circuits at four sites to its headquarters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from a teleport in Germany. The new three-year contract calls for expanding MPLS connectivity to an additional seven bank locations including regional resource centers and key field offices.

AfDB’s network requirements include high availability; uniform Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Quality of Service (QoS) offerings; a single vendor to provide full turnkey managed services and ongoing system engineering, installation, and field maintenance; monthly reporting, statistics and quarterly review on usage and performance; and a 24/7 multi-lingual help desk.

The multi-lateral development finance institution is comprised of three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF), and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).

Seven out of 10 of Ara Satellite FTA Channels Have an Online Presence

Satellite dishes on rooftops in Cairo, Egypt.Cliff Hellis (Flickr)

In a study of 724 fully operational satellite FTA television channels targeting the Arab World, 505, or approximately 70 percent also have an online presence, according to research from Arab Advisors Group. The research firm further discovered that 91 percent of TV channels with an online site have an enhanced presence through corresponding portals. The portals portray the channels’ services.

“The analysis reveals that a majority of the 505 channels that have an online site choose to have an enhanced online presence. Furthermore, 24.6 percent of channels with an online presence generate online revenues from their supporting online presence, such as: online advertisement and online shopping,” Hind Qweider, senior research analyst at Arab Advisors wrote in the report.

South Africa Funds Satellite Broadband for SMEs

South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is providing funding for the country’s business chamber, the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (FABCOS) and its new major business incubator program, Microtelco e-ncubator, to receive satellite broadband from Avanti Communications.

The partnership will provide high speed satellite broadband to more than 1,000 Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), focusing extensively on businesses in some of the most remote parts of South Africa.

Globalstar’s Botswana Gateway Goes Live, Starts Pan-African Coverage

The Ogulbey Gateway of Globalstar Avrasya, Turkey.Globalstar

Globalstar’s gateway in Gaborone, Botswana has activated, enabling simplex coverage over the African continent. The new gateway, in partnership with Broadband Botswana Internet (BBi), provides Globalstar’s full line of simplex services, including its Spot portfolio of tracking solutions.

Globalstar’s network enables infrastructure monitoring, leveraging M2M communications and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) for professional, corporate and government users.

The company has been targeting a larger swath of customers outside of North America.

NovelSat Adds TSoIP to All Satellite Transmission Products

NovelSat has made Transport Stream over IP (TSoIP) support immediately available across its full line of satellite transmission products. In satellite transmission, TSoIP makes it possible to send and receive compressed high definition video transport streams over long distances on any IP network. NovelSat added this feature based on increasing demand from the broadcast industry for IP-based satellite transmission.

Orbital ATK Wins ORS-5 Launch Contract

The U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office has awarded a $23.6 million contract to Orbital ATK to launch the ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft in mid-2017 using a rocket from the company’s Minotaur launch vehicle family.

Orbital ATK plans to conduct the mission using a Minotaur 4 rocket from Launch Complex-46, operated by Space Florida at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch Complex-46 is one of four launch sites from which Minotaur can launch, and this will be the rocket’s first flight from this range.

The Minotaur 4 uses retired Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Peacekeeper boosters for the first three stages and Orbital ATK Orion 38 solid rocket motors for the upper stages. A launch team comprised of employees from both Orbital and ATK heritage companies will integrate the final launch vehicle.

“This is a prime example of where the synergies from the Orbital ATK merger are providing real benefits to our customers, by being able to deploy one launch team that possesses expertise from critical propulsion and avionics subsystems, to the full systems engineering understanding of the vehicle,” said Scott Lehr, president of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group.

Artist’s rendition of Firefly Alpha.Firefly Space Systems

Firefly Space Systems Issues Payload User’s Guide, Gains New Investment

Firefly Space Systems, has released its Payload User’s Guide for the Alpha vehicle, the company’s first small satellite rocket in a scalable family aof launch vehicles currently under development. The Payload User’s Guide provides Firefly’s customers with information detailing the operations and capabilities of its Alpha vehicle.

The document’s purpose is to enable customers to prepare more effectively and efficiently for their small satellite missions. Firefly Alpha is designed to lift approximately 400 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for $8 million. Its first flight is slated for 2017.

EMC Closes MTN Acquisition

Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) has completed its acquisition of Maritime Telecommunications Network (MTN), previously announced on April 29. The combined global company retains the name EMC and is now headquartered at MTN’s Miramar, Fla. offices.

EMC will merge its government, oil and gas, and commercial shipping business units with those of MTN, and gain entrance to the cruise, ferry and yacht markets. The new company provides remote connectivity to approximately 8,000 on-land sites and 1,600 vessels. According to MTN, the combined entity is the largest consumer of satellite capacity outside the United States and Europe.

Planet Labs Acquires BlackBridge

BlackBridge satellites.SSTL

Planet Labs has entered a definitive agreement to purchase the BlackBridge geospatial companies, including the RapidEye suite of core offerings. Through the acquisition, Planet Labs will have access to more than 100 distribution channels and customers globally, as well as RapidEye’s six year-archive of global imagery, comprised of 6 billion square kilometers at 5-meter resolution.

BlackBridge will continue to operate the RapidEye fleet of satellites. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

Lockheed Martin Opens RF Payload Center of Excellence

Lockheed Martin has opened a new development center in Denver Colo. for Radio Frequency (RF) payloads known as the RF Payload Center of Excellence. The facility brings together researchers, manufacturers and analysts in one place, and collocates the majority of payload development, production and testing, which is a first for Lockheed Martin. The facility will focus on developing reconfigurable payloads and advancing satellite systems.

The center will develop a variety of technologies commonly incorporated in such payloads, including antennas, arrays, and transmitters.

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