Showing posts with label Satellites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Satellites. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

SpaceX to launch its first 60 satellites this week

SpaceX expects to launch the first 60 satellites for its Starlink LEO constellation this week.

In a tweet, Elon Musk disclosed that six launches of 60 satellites each are needed for "minor coverage" and 12 launches of 60 satellites each are needed for "moderate" coverage. The accompanying photo reveals an extremely tight packing of photos into the Falcon fairing.

SpaceX has disclosed plans to deploy as many as 12,000 satellites in three, low earth orbit (LEO) shells. Cost estimates for full deployment approach $10 billion.

In November 2018, the FCC granted authority to SpaceX to construct, deploy, and operate a new very-low-Earth orbit constellation of more than 7,000 satellites using V-band frequencies. This is in addition to the authorization granted in March 2018. The FCC also granted SpaceX’s request to add the 37.5-42.0 GHz, and 47.2-50.2 GHz frequency bands to its previously authorized NGSO constellation. SpaceX now has the flexibility to provide both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally.

FCC approves SpaceX's NGSO Satellite System

The FCC voted authorized SpaceX to construct, deploy, and operate a proposed non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system comprising 4,425 satellites for the provision of fixed-satellite service (FSS) around the world.

In July 2016, OneWeb was granted approval to build a similar constellation of MEO satellites.

Two months ago, SpaceX successfully launched the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) PAZ observation satellite on behalf of Hisdesat and two satellites of its own.  Tintin A & B are the first two demonstration satellites for SpaceX's planned Starlink broadband satellite service. Both were successfully deployed into polar orbit and are communicating with Earth stations.

In regulatory filing, SpaceX has revealed that its initial system will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km).  The system will require associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations, and end-user earth stations. The system will use Ka- and Ku-Band spectrum.  SpaceX has separately filed for authority to operate in the V-Band, where the company has proposed an additional constellation of 7,500 satellites operating even closer to Earth. To implement the system, SpaceX will utilise the availability of significantly more powerful computing and software capabilities.  On the launch broadcast for the PAZ satellite, SpaceX said quite a bit of development work remains ahead on its satellite constellation plans

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Column: How Satellites will Reshape Data Connectivity in 2019

by Eric Watko, EVP, Product Marketing & Strategy, SES Networks

Next-generation satellite services are set to transform data connectivity as we know it, opening up new markets and bringing the opportunities of the digital era to unconnected – and under-connected – industries and end-user populations around the world, to what would be roughly 3.7 billion people that were still offline by the end of 2018 according to the International Telecommunications Union.

This connectivity shift is already underway. In 2018, the satellite industry continued to advance its global reach and cloud-scale data networking capabilities with the launch or plans for additional satellites across multiple orbits (GEO, MEO and LEO), new partnerships to develop application-specific antennas to serve emerging customer edge terminals, and expansion into connectivity deals with major cloud providers – to name just a few milestones.

In addition, the satellite industry continues to take more of a leadership role in global network standards bodies and industry organizations – such as MEF, Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and the Linux Foundation Networking Fund, amongst others – to continue the drive to make satellite a seamless part of the global networking ecosystem.

As a result of the progress that’s been made, today satellite-enabled connectivity is delivered with fiber-like, cloud-optimized performance to aviation, energy, maritime, government, telecom service providers and mobile network operators around the world.

In the year ahead, we expect to see satellite become further entrenched as a standard connectivity option for customers, taking its rightful place alongside fiber and microwave technologies. As satellite connectivity moves into the mainstream, we will also begin to see more advanced services, capabilities and use cases emerge, and here are four that we expect to see take shape beginning in 2019:

Cloud connectivity and IoT – A recent IDC report estimates worldwide technology spending on IoT will reach $1.2 trillion by 2022. Satellite-enabled cloud and edge compute connectivity will allow organizations in remote or hard-to-reach locations monitor the health of their operations using IoT. This will open up the IoT opportunity for governments and entire vertical industries in areas where connectivity has traditionally been non-existent or poor – for example, industrial IoT services on oil rigs, mining sites and energy farms, to name a few – allowing them to send large amounts of data to the cloud or the edge for real-time processing and analytics. This kind of ubiquitous low-latency satellite connectivity will also present significant opportunities for cloud providers to tap into a wide range of market segments and organizations in developing and remote geographies looking to utilize IoT.

SD-WAN to fuel true multi-access connectivity – In 2018, we saw telecom service providers reap the benefits of global hybrid connectivity as they continue to seek cost-efficient ways to drive new revenue streams. This approach combines MEO and GEO satellite constellations with providers’ existing terrestrial connectivity services, allowing customers to deliver different levels of service availability and performance, based on specific application requirements – similar to application-aware routing. In 2019, we will begin to see SD-WAN capabilities emerge to ensure common services and flexible application- and performance-aware routing across this mix of multi-access services.

Accelerating 5G’s Global Footprint – As 5G news heats up in the wake of CES and ahead of Mobile World Congress, the satellite industry’s investments in both space and ground assets are being recognized as valuable assets to help accelerate 5G deployments worldwide. Using satellite’s unique “superpower” of global reach, the combination of multi-orbit constellations will enable MNOs to expand their 5G footprint cost-effectively into regions that are difficult or impossible to serve via their terrestrial assets. Look for the satellite industry players to work closely with each other as well as with leading mobile network operators and industry suppliers to facilitate the integration of satellite into 5G ahead of expected broader deployments in 2020.  Expect to see more technical and interoperability demos, such as the recent European Commission Horizon2020 SaT5G project.

Elevating the customer experience – In the year ahead, we expect to see customers move further along on the satellite connectivity adoption curve – taking a step beyond basic connectivity to a focus on customized services that elevate their customers’ experience, and we are already seeing the beginning stages of this evolution today. For example, many commercial aviation providers, as well as international cruise line operators, have already conquered basic satellite connectivity in the sky and at sea and are now considering how to optimize their operations and services with customized applications and a premium, differentiated experience. In contrast, government agencies are looking at how to use their service to evolve enterprise tools and applications, while still other market segments are just arriving at the basic connectivity stage. As these deployments continue to mature, we will begin to see this focus on the customer experience incorporated into all stages of the satellite connectivity adoption curve.

Once viewed as complex, expensive, and proprietary, the traditional role of satellite has been completely disrupted through investment, innovation and interoperability. Making satellite seamless is the primary goal of the industry’s network modernization strategy and complements our vision that integrates satellite-based connectivity services with the capabilities and advanced services of 5G networks and cloud platforms. The end result will be an automated, virtualized network service platform that allows customers and technology partners to onboard new applications and launch new, satellite-based managed services in an orchestrated, standards-based environment.

And in 2019, as satellite becomes increasingly seamless combined with its inherent global reach advantages, the industry looks for it to lead the charge to attain digital equality, open new markets and enable opportunities through innovative and affordable satellite-enabled managed data services. In doing so, the satellite industry will help our customers elevate the service experience and benefit end users all over the world.

Eric Watko leads product management, marketing, customer enablement and portfolio strategy for SES Networks. His experience in satellite communication networks and space-based processor technologies spans over 20 years, including with SES Networks, O3b, VT iDirect and Cisco.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

SpaceX launches 19 Iridium NEXT satellites

SpaceX successfully launched ten Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This is the seventh of eight planned launches of Iridium NEXT satellites by SpaceX, bringing the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space to 65.

All 10 satellites for this mission will be deployed to Iridium orbital plane number 5, where they will go into operation immediately following a thorough testing and validation process.  The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 operational crosslinked satellites, for a total of 66 satellites in the active constellation. Once all the satellites from the Iridium-7 mission are operational, plane 5 will be the fourth orbital plane to be comprised entirely of Iridium NEXT satellites.  In total, 81 Iridium NEXT satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six serving as ground spares.

Iridium NEXT is the company's $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion in 2018.  Iridium NEXT is replacing the company's first generation global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space.  It represents the evolution of critical communications infrastructure that governments and organizations worldwide rely on to drive business, enable connectivity, empower disaster relief efforts and more.

http://www.IridiumNEXT.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

LeoSat attracts a strategic investor in its upcoming LEO constallation

Hispasat, the Spanish national satellite operator, has agreed to invest in LeoSat, which is preparing to launch a constellation of low-earth-orbit communications satellites. Financial terms were not disclosed.

With this agreement, Hispasat joins Asia’s largest satellite operator, SKY Perfect JSAT, as investors in LeoSat.

Washington, D.C.-based LeoSat is working with Thales Alenia Space to develop a constellation of up to 108 low-earth-orbit, Ka-band communications satellites. Launch of the constellation is expected in 2019. LeoSat is targetting high-speed, low-latency and highly secure communications and bandwidth for telecom backhaul, energy, maritime, government and international business markets.

http://leosat.com/


  • LeoSat Enterprises was established in 2013 by Cliff Anders (Chairman) and Phil Marlar (Chief Operating Officer), two former Schlumberger executives.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Iridium's NEXT launch set for July 20

The seventh Iridium NEXT mission has been targeted by SpaceX for launch on July 20, 2018, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO).

This will be the second-to-last launch of the planned Iridium NEXT program, bringing the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space to 65.

All 10 satellites for this mission will be deployed to Iridium orbital plane number 5, where they will go into operation immediately following a thorough testing and validation process.  The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 operational crosslinked satellites, for a total of 66 satellites in the active constellation. Once all the satellites from the Iridium-7 mission are operational, plane 5 will be the fourth orbital plane to be comprised entirely of Iridium NEXT satellites.  In total, 81 Iridium NEXT satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six serving as ground spares.

Iridium NEXT is the company's $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion in 2018.  Iridium NEXT is replacing the company's first generation global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space.  It represents the evolution of critical communications infrastructure that governments and organizations worldwide rely on to drive business, enable connectivity, empower disaster relief efforts and more.

http://www.IridiumNEXT.com

Sunday, June 10, 2018

FCC authorizes O3b's fleet of Medium Earth Orbit Satellites

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized SES to serve the U.S. market using a significantly expanded O3b fleet in the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

“This important FCC grant provides SES with the means to grow and scale our network, connecting the planet and delivering world-class solutions to our customers globally,” said Steve Collar, President and CEO of SES. “With the first 7 O3b mPOWER satellites, we will deliver a paradigm shift in performance, bandwidth and service. The FCC grant provides the platform to exponentially scale the network in response to surging demand for global data connectivity.”

Some highlights:

  • opens significant additional frequencies to SES for use in its non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation and 
  • enables SES to deploy O3b mPOWER satellites into inclined and equatorial orbits, delivering full global pole-to-pole coverage. 
  • a total of 26 new O3b satellites are authorized, in addition to the 16 satellites already operational and in orbit. 
  • allows SES to add 4 satellites to its existing O3b constellation, which are scheduled for launch next year
  • provides the framework for SES to triple its next-generation O3b mPOWER fleet by giving U.S. market access for another 22 super-powered satellites, of which 7 are currently under construction and scheduled for launch starting in 2021.

Soyuz rocket carries four O3b MEO satellites to orbit

A Soyuz rocket launched by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center successfully carried four O3b satellites into Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

The new Ka-band satellites will join SES’s existing constellation of 12 MEO satellites, orbiting at approximately 8,000 km from Earth – four times closer to the planet than geostationary (GEO) satellites. Thales Alenia Space built the satellites.

“We are very excited to have four more O3b satellites in orbit, and we look forward to them joining the constellation in May and serving our customers around the globe. The demand for high performance bandwidth and networks continues to grow and, as the only successful non-geostationary broadband system, we need these new satellites to fulfil demand across a wide range of verticals and applications. From connecting underserved communities and meaningfully transforming lives through improved broadband access, to delivering state of the art satellite-enabled network services to ships, planes and government platforms, our O3b fleet offers unique and differentiated performance and is driving our customers’ businesses forward,” stated Steve Collar, CEO at SES Networks. Another four O3b satellites are scheduled to launch in H1 2019, also on Soyuz rockets.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

SpaceX launches Bangabandhu-1 satellite for Bangladesh

SpaceX successfully launched Bangabandhu-1, the first Bangladeshi communications satellite, into geostationary transfer orbit aboard a Falcon 9 Block 5 version.

Bangabandhu-1, which was built by Thales Alenia Space, is fitted with 26 Ku-Band and 14 C-Band transponders. It offers capacity in Ku-Band over Bangladesh and its territorial waters of the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia; it also provides capacity in C-Band over the whole region. Bangabandhu

SpaceX landed the first stage approximately 11 minutes after liftoff.

Friday, March 30, 2018

FCC approves SpaceX's NGSO Satellite System

The FCC voted authorized SpaceX to construct, deploy, and operate a proposed non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system comprising 4,425 satellites for the provision of fixed-satellite service (FSS) around the world. 

In July 2016, OneWeb was granted approval to build a similar constellation of MEO satellites.

Two months ago, SpaceX successfully launched the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) PAZ observation satellite on behalf of Hisdesat and two satellites of its own.  Tintin A & B are the first two demonstration satellites for SpaceX's planned Starlink broadband satellite service. Both were successfully deployed into polar orbit and are communicating with Earth stations.

In regulatory filing, SpaceX has revealed that its initial system will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km).  The system will require associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations, and end-user earth stations. The system will use Ka- and Ku-Band spectrum.  SpaceX has separately filed for authority to operate in the V-Band, where the company has proposed an additional constellation of 7,500 satellites operating even closer to Earth. To implement the system, SpaceX will utilise the availability of significantly more powerful computing and software capabilities.  On the launch broadcast for the PAZ satellite, SpaceX said quite a bit of development work remains ahead on its satellite constellation plans.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Seamless Air Alliance to ride OneWeb's LEO satellites

A new Seamless Air Alliance has been formed with the goal of providing better in-flight connectivity for passengers across airlines and irrespective of routes. Mobile operators would be able to extend seamless connectivity to their customers while in flight.

Key members of the alliance include Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Bharti Airtel.

Low-latency, high-bandwidth in-flight connectivity will be delivered via OneWeb's forthcoming constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. The partners expect to be able to lower costs as well.

The alliance aims to streamline system integration and certification, providing open specifications for interoperability, increasing accessibility for passengers, and enabling simple and integrated billing.

"What if the best internet you ever experienced was in the air? Keeping this goal in mind, together, we will enable an affordable and frictionless experience for passengers everywhere," said Greg Wyler, Founder and Executive Chairman of OneWeb. "With the launch of our first production satellites set for later this year, we're one step closer to bridging the global Digital Divide on land and in the air."

"Easy-to-use, high-speed connectivity is part of the next revolution in aerospace," said Marc Fontaine, Airbus Digital Transformation Officer. "We're excited to create this seamless experience for our airline customers and their passengers. As we showed with our Skywise aviation data platform, Airbus is committed to innovation that creates value across the aviation industry."


  • OneWeb has previously disclosed $500 million in finding from Airbus, Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp., Intelsat, Qualcomm, The Coca-Cola Company, Totalplay, a Grupo Salinas Company, owned by Ricardo B. Salinas, and Richard Branson's Virgin Group. OneWeb aims to launch a constellation of 648 small, low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide global broadband and mobile telephone services. The system promises to bring more than 10 Tbps of new capacity.

Monday, January 29, 2018

SES preps four MEO satellites for March launch

SES confirmed that four new O3b satellites have arrived safely at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, in preparation for launch by a Soyuz vehicle in March 2018.

The new satellites, which will be placed into orbit at a distance of 8,000km, will augment SES’s fleet of 12 O3b satellites.  The new satellites were built by Thales Alenia Space and will enable SES Networks to offer more capacity, enhanced coverage, increased efficiencies and greater reliability while delivering carrier-grade services including MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certified services, to telcos, mobile network operators (MNOs), enterprises, internet service providers (ISPs) and government customers.

Steve Collar, Chief Executive Officer at SES Networks, said, ““The uptake of our O3b fleet and capability has been breathtaking. From being the fastest growing operator in 2015 to our customers demanding for more O3b services today, we are now approaching peak capacity across a number of regions. As the only operational low-latency, broadband constellation in the world, we are developing our network aggressively to deliver cloud scale connectivity and solutions. Our managed end-to-end network services are comparable with terrestrial networks, empowering our customers to offer high-performance connectivity on a truly global scale.”

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A second successful launch for Rocket:ab from NZ

Rocket Lab successfully completed its test launch from its from the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand.

The Electron rocket reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. We’re thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch,” says Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck. “Our incredibly dedicated and talented team have worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron. I’m immensely proud of what they have achieved today.”

The payload included a Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite for launch customer Planet, as well as two Lemur-2 satellites for weather and ship tracking company Spire.

Founded in 2006 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles with operations and a launch site in New Zealand. It is a privately funded company with investors including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures and K1W1.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

First ICEYE Microsatellite launched from India

ICEYE, a start-up based in Helsinki, Finland that is developing microsatellites with unique synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, announced the successful launch of its first satellite on a proof-of-concept mission.

The 70-kg ICEYE-X1 satellite was carried into orbit on ISRO's PSLV-C40 rocket launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in India.

The launch marks the world's first microsatellite equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to ever be deployed in space. It is also Finland's very first commercial satellite.

"ICEYE has been committed to enabling better decision making for everyone with Earth observation capabilities, and now through this new SAR data source, we are closer than ever to unlocking that potential across many different industries," said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. "I am extremely proud of the ICEYE team who have now, for the first time in the world, opened up the possibilities of the miniaturization of SAR satellite technology. With the support from the Finnish and European communities, Aalto University, Tekes, Horizon 2020, all of our investors, our extremely talented advisors, and so many more who've supported us, we have been able to achieve this crucial milestone."


ICEYE has at least two additional proof-of-concept satellite missions planned for 2018. These first three initial missions will be conducted through different launch providers. Once testing is completed, ICEYE plans to launch a constellation of more than 18 SAR-enabled microsatellites to bring reliable high-temporal-resolution imaging to the market. ICEYE's constellation, once fully deployed, will allow users to accurately image any point on Earth within only a few hours, regardless of weather or darkness.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A critical launch for Intelsat's EPIC NG satellites – Part 1

After two scrubbed launch attempts, SpaceX successfully launched the heavy Intelsat 35e EPIC Next Generation satellite to geosynchronous orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX, which did not attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket onto a drone ship due to the mission requirements, has now completed ten launches this year and three in the past 13 days.

For Intelsat, the successful launch is especially good news. With over $14 billion in debt and a market capitalisation of under $400 million (its shares are currently trading in the $3 range) Intelsat is racing to migrate customers off an aging fleet of legacy satellites and onto its EPIC NG satellites. After the launch, Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat, stated that the successful launch of Intelsat 35e was a major milestone in its business plan for 2017, furthering the footprint and resilience of Intelsat's EPIC NG infrastructure.

These new satellites are the future of Intelsat, at least that is the plan now that a previously announced plan to merge with OneWeb, a hot new venture backed by Softbank, the Virgin Group, Airbus, Cocacola, Qualcomm and others, was unexpectedly dropped last month. OneWeb aims to transform space communications with hundreds of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Merging with Intelsat would bring the possibility of combining LEO and GEO satellite constellations. The deal was also expected to bring in much needed cash to Intelsat, which for now really needs its EPIC NG satellites to meet or exceed its technical and economic expectations.

Intelsat EPIC Next Generation

The newly-launched Intelsat 35e satellite is the fourth of seven planned EPIC NG high throughput satellites. Intelsat 29e, launched in January 2016 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, brings high throughput capacity in both C- and Ku-band over the Americas and North Atlantic Ocean region.

Intelsat 32e

Intelsat 32e, launched February 2017 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, while part of the EPIC fleet, is operated by Intelsat on behalf of SKY Brasil.

Intelsat 33e

Intelsat 33e, launched in August 2016 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, brings high throughput capacity in both C- and Ku-band to the Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia regions from 60°E. Customers include maritime broadband providers GEE, Speedcast and Marlink; in-flight providers Gogo and Panasonic Avionics, a Pakistan ISP called SuperNet, Telkom South Africa, Orange Cameroon, IP Planet, Vodacom, Djibouti Telecom and Africell RDC SPRL, Russian network service providers Romantis and RuSat and several TV and radio broadcasting companies, including Television and Radio Broadcasting of Armenia and MultiChoice of South Africa.

Intelsat 35e

Intelsat 35e will cover the Americas, Europe and sub-Sahara Africa from the 34.5° west longitude. It carries a unique payload of C-band wide- and spot-beams for applications including wireless backhaul, enterprise and mobility services. A customised high power wide beam will be used for DTH service delivery by Canal+, with additional confirmed customers including Orange, INWI, Tele Greenland, Sonatel, Marlink, Speedcast, ETECSA and eProcess.

Intelsat 37e

Intelsat 37e is scheduled for launch in August 2017 from French Guuiana aboard an Arianne 5 launch vehicle. Its orbital location has not yet been listed.

Two additional satellites in the EPIC NG line have been mentioned but so far the company has not reported a production contract, a launch partner contract or even a timeline for when these might enter service.

Intelsat first unveiled its EpicNG platform in 2012. It is based on a new approach to satellite and network architecture utilising multiple frequency bands, wide beams, spot beams and frequency reuse technology. Epic NG is the company's next generation of satellites, promising higher throughputs and lower cost per bit. It will be a complementary overlay to the company's existing constellation of satellites and global IntelsatONE terrestrial network.

Intelsat’s Epic NG satellites were designed and manufactured by Boeing on the Boeing 702MP satellite bus, a platform that weighs up to 6,100 kg (13,400 lb) and supports power outputs from 3 to 18 kW. Compatible launch rockets for the Boeing 702MP include the Atlas V, Ariane 5, Delta IV, Falcon 9, Proton and Sea Launch systems, although for the EPIC program Intelsat has contracted with Ariane Space and SpaceX. The EPIC satellites have a design life of 15 years, so the current generation of Intelsat satellites could remain in commercial service until the early 2030s if they have not been superseded by other platforms.

Company profile and its legacy fleet

Intelsat was founded in 1964 as an inter-government organisation for managing the new field of space communications. Its first satellite went into service over the north Atlantic a year later. In July 2001, Intelsat became a private company. In 2005, it was acquired for $3.1 billion by four private equity firms: Madison Dearborn Partners, Apax Partners, Permira and Apollo Global Management. In 2006, Intelsat acquired PanAmSat, then the largest satellite carrier of TV channels, in a deal valued at $4.3 billion. In 2013, Intelsat was relisted as a public company and its shares are traded on the NYSE under the symbol 'I'. Intelsat maintains its headquarters in Luxembourg and an administrative office in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Intelsat currently has a fleet of approximately 50 in-service satellites, 8 teleports and the IntelsatOne terrestrial network. The in-service satellites cover 99% of the world's populated regions, including market access in approximately 200 countries and territories.

How much traffic is carried over this network?

At an investor event at the end of April 2017, Intelsat disclosed that its fleet is currently carrying over 5,600 video channels, including approximately 900 high definition channels. System utilization is listed at 78% of total available capacity of approximately 2,050 station-kept units (36 MHz). (NB: this station-kept transponder count does not include Intelsat EPIC NG capacity).

Financial profile

For Q1 2017, Intelsat reported total revenue of $538.5 million and net loss of $34.6 million. EBITDA amounted to $398.1 million and adjusted EBITDA was $409.8 million, or 76% of revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2017. The Q1 revenue total represented a 3% decline compared to $553 million in the first quarter of 2016. Net loss attributable to Intelsat was $35 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared to net income of $15 million in the prior year period. Intelsat said the net loss reflects lower revenues, an increase in interest expense and greater depreciation related to the satellites placed into service over the course of 2016.

At the same investor event on April 27, 2017, Intelsat affirmed its full-year 2017 guidance, saying its revenue is projected to be in a range of $2.180 to $2.225 billion. Full-year 2017 adjusted EBITDA is expected in a range of $1.655 to $1.700 billion. Recently, Intelsat disclosed that the U.S. government has contracted capacity on both Intelsat 29e and 33e, representing a total capacity of approximately 180 MHz.

In April 2017, Liquid Telecom signed a new, multi-year agreement for dedicated services on Intelsat 33e including a ground networking solution based upon technology developed under the European Space Agency-funded Project Indigo. The new Intelsat Epic NG services will expand Liquid Telecom's coverage and network capabilities across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where demand has grown for VSAT technology to deliver connectivity to underserved remote or rural areas.


(Part 2 will discuss the abandoned OneWeb transaction and other key trends in satellite networking.)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Big plans for next gen satellite constellations – Part 1

One thing about the space industry that is a certainty, people like to think big. Just as the mobile networking industry is wrapping up the big 4G LTE network rollouts across the six inhabited continents, while setting its sights on much denser 5G infrastructure, the satellite industry is setting the stage for new generation of broadband satellite constellations. While some see a growing saturation of mobile coverage, augmented by FTTH, xDSL and cable modem fixed line services, the satellite proponents point out that there are billions of people in the developing countries without dependable Internet access.

An FCC study recently found that more than 39% of Americans living in rural areas lack access to advanced telecommunications capability, as compared to 4% of Americans living in urban areas, and approximately 41% of Americans living on Tribal lands lacking access to advanced telecommunications capability. For such unserved or underserved markets broadband satellites promise ubiquitous coverage in rural and hard-to-reach places, especially islands without an undersea cable connection. Satellites also offer an 'incremental user advantage' over mobile infrastructure. This means that if there is one user residing outside the network footprint, the mobile or fixed line network would require the deployment of new equipment closer to this user. For satellite, there is no additional cost from adding just one user from its very wide footprint. This series will look at two recently floated broadband satellite proposals: SpaceX and Ligado Networks.

Elon Musk's SpaceX – massive ambition

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is widely known for its Falcon reusable rocket designs and long-term mission to colonise Mars. The Hawthorne, California based company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. Its first big milestones include launching and recovering its Dragon spacecraft in 2010 and becoming the first private company to successfully send a spacecraft to the International Space Station in 2012. It currently has about 6,000 employees; investors include Google, Fidelity, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Founders Fund, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. SpaceX believes its reusable launch system is the magic that will significantly bring down the cost of getting into space. Beginning in 2017, SpaceX has entered a schedule of launches on behalf of commercial customers and its NASA contract to transport goods and soon astronauts to the International Space Station.

The SpaceX LEO plans

Earlier this month, Patricia Cooper, VP, Satellite Government Affairs for SpaceX, unveiled an ambitious plan for low-earth orbit satellites during testimony in front of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology. Her testimony centred on a new generation of U.S.-based LEO satellites. The advantage of LEO positioning is that the satellite can deliver much lower latency versus satellites parked in a geostationary orbit at distances of 22,000 miles. However, large constellations of LEO satellites are needed to maintain continuous coverage.

SpaceX follows a vertically-integrated approach from design, development, production, launch and operations. The company says it is already the world's largest launch services provider, measured by missions under contract. Its upcoming launch manifest current has 70 mission bookings. As of May 16th, the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle has successfully launched 33 times. SpaceX plans to leverage technology advances like dynamic beam forming and phased array antennas in space and on the ground, as well as optical inter-satellite links to establish a 'mesh network' in space through which the satellites will communicate with each other.

First SpaceX design points:

•   Initially, the SpaceX system will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km).

•   The system will require associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations, and end user earth stations.

•   The system will use Ka- and Ku-Band spectrum.

•   Target customers include residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users worldwide.

SpaceX has separately filed for authority to operate in the V-Band, where the company has proposed an additional constellation of 7,500 satellites operating even closer to Earth. To implement the system, SpaceX will utilise the availability of significantly more powerful computing and software capabilities, which will enable SpaceX to allocate broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where it is most needed and directing energy away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems, either in space or on the ground.

In terms of CPE, SpaceX is developing a relatively small flat panel roughly the size of a laptop. It will use similar phased array technologies to allow for highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system's LEO satellites. In space, the satellites will communicate with each other using optical inter-satellite links, in effect creating a mesh network overhead that will enable seamless network management and continuity of service.

Space X is seeking regulatory clearance to expand the umbrella coverage of the LEO constellation with the more intensive coverage from the VLEO constellation. The company anticipates launching its first prototype satellites by the end on the year. Operation launch is anticipated in 2019 and the company hopes that the remaining satellites will be launched in phases through 2024, when the system will reach full capacity with the Ka- and Ku-band satellites. Naturally, SpaceX intends to use its own Falcon 9 rocket, leveraging significant launch cost savings afforded by the first stage reusability now demonstrated with the vehicle.

At this stage in the project, it looks as though SpaceX is planning to design, launch and operate the broadband satellite constellation on a global basis, with the first prototype launch expected in 2018. So far, it has apparently filed for regulatory permits only in the U.S. Proceeds from the network operations presumably will be used to fund the company's Mars ambitions.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

SpaceX Launches SES-9 on Falcon 9 Rocket

SpaceX successfully launched the SES-9 satellite using a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

SES-9 is SES’s largest satellite to serve the Asia-Pacific region. It weighed 5.3 tonnes at the launch and has 57 high-power Ku-band transponders – equivalent to 81x36 MHz transponders’ It thus provides significant expansion capacity to serve the buoyant and fast-growing video, enterprise, mobility and government sectors across Northeast Asia, South Asia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Boeing was lead contractor.

In addition, SES-9 is equipped with dedicated mobility beams to provide maritime coverage vessels on high-traffic maritime routes between the Suez Canal and Strait of Malacca.

The Falcon 9 rocket attempted to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic, but missed narrowly.

http://www.spacex.com

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Arianespace Launches four O3b Satellites, Completing Constellation

Arianespace successfully launched four Ka-band satellites for O3b Networks aboard a medium-lift Soyuz rocket from the Spaceport in French Guiana. This marked Arianespace’s tenth Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center and the third launch for O3b Networks, following the successful launch of the first eight satellites in the O3b constellation in June 2013 and July 2014.

Payload lift performance for this flight is approximately 3,180 kg., including about 2,800 kg. for the four Ka-band satellites, which were produced by Thales Alenia Space for O3b Networks.

The four Ka-band satellites are being directed into an equatorial orbit at an altitude of about 8,000 km, where they will join the first eight satellites. With this latest launch, the O3b constellation is now fully deployed and operational. O3b Networks started commercial service on September 1, 2014.

O3b's constellation provides optimal coverage between 45˚ north/south latitudes, with a minimum of 10 beams per region (7 regions) totalling 70 remote beams per the initial 8 satellite configuration. The satellites are able to deliver up to 1.2 Gbps per beam (600 Mbps x 2). Transponder bandwidth: 216 MHz; 2 x 216 MHz per beam. Because they are medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites, O3b can guarantee latencies of less than 150 milliseconds.  The company says its satellite network is fully capable of enabling telcos to extend their mobile networks into remote and underserved regions.


http://www.arianespace.com
http://www.arianespace.com/images/launch-kits/launch-kit-pdf-eng/VS10-launchkit-EN.pdf
http://www.o3bnetworks.com/

See also