NBN preps business broadband offer with underused Sky Muster capacity

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Australia’s NBN is preparing to offer underutilized satellite capacity on its twin Sky Muster satellites for businesses. An NBN executive estimated the business service will use 15 percent of the capacity on the Ka-band satellite system. NBN’s Sky Muster satellites are mainly for residential broadband in rural and remote areas deemed too expensive to reach with terrestrial infrastructure. Since the business service uses spare capacity, it is unlikely to be available on Australia’s eastern seaboard where NBN’s satellites are already heavily relied upon. Along with capacity, the business service will also use NBN ground infrastructure like the state-owned company’s nine ground stations. [ZDNet]

NigComSat has yet to complete the purchase of two satellites from China Great Wall Industry Corp. Chief George Moghalu, NigComSat’s board chairman, said NigComSat views the two satellites as necessary to provide backup for the operator’s sole spacecraft: NigComSat-1R. The lack of backup spacecraft has made prospective customers leery of using its telecom services, he said. [Daily Trust]

Russia is planning a communications satellite constellation. Russian Space Systems Company, part of the state space corporation Roscosmos, is developing a system of 288 satellites called Efir to provide global communications. The company plans to deploy the satellites into 870-kilometer orbits by 2025, but did not disclose the data rates or other technical details of the system. [TASS]

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SpaceX won’t seek government subsidies for its Starlink satellite broadband constellation. The company notified the FCC this month it won’t seek a share of the $2 billion in rural broadband subsidies available under the Connect America Fund II program, arguing that it was more effective for the company “to leverage advanced technology and smart private sector infrastructure investment.” SpaceX had previously lobbied the FCC to ensure that non-geostationary satellite systems would be eligible for the fund. [SpaceNews]

Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) bid to build Spacecom’s Amos-8 satellite had a price of $200 million and a project timeline of four years. That is almost twice as much time and money as the bid Spacecom ultimately selected from Space Systems Loral. The Israeli government, seeking to maintain a domestic telecom-satellite manufacturing capability, has signaled intent to buy and operate its own satellite from IAI. Mossi Raz, an Israeli parliamentarian, sent a letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit earlier this month requesting an investigation into the decision to have the IAI build a new state-operated communication satellite amid allegations of backroom political dealings. [DefenseNews]

Kratos has received contracts for satellite command & control, signal monitoring and other products and services worth $55 million. The ground infrastructure and related services are for U.S. defense satellites and commercial satellites that support national security missions. Kratos said most of the work under the contracts will be performed over the next 12 months. [Kratos]

A Falcon 9 successfully launched Earth science and communications satellites Tuesday. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 3:48 p.m. Eastern and placed the two GRACE-FO satellites into low Earth orbit about 11 minutes later. After a coast phase of nearly an hour, the upper stage deployed five Iridium Next satellites. The first stage, previously flown in January, did not attempt a landing, and the company wasn’t able to catch a fairing section on a boat equipped with a large net. The launch was the 10th SpaceX mission of the year. [SpaceNews]

Iridium has won approval from a maritime organization to provide emergency communications services. Iridium said Monday that the International Maritime Organization certified the company to provide Global Maritime Distress Safety System services, which only Inmarsat provides today by satellite. Iridium spent five years winning that approval, facing opposition from Inmarsat. The International Maritime Organization also certified Inmarsat’s new Fleet Safety service, which provides the mandatory maritime safety service and broadband data services through a single terminal. A third system, China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, is seeking certification as well. [SpaceNews]

Orbcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Robert Costantini resigned last week, the company disclosed May 22. In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Orbcomm said his decision to leave was not a result of bad blood with the company. While Orbcomm looks for a new chief financial officer, another executive will take his place on a temporary basis. Constantine “Dean” Milcos, Orbcomm’s chief accounting officer since 2013, will serve as interim chief financial officer effective immediately. Milcos will handle the responsibilities of both jobs until a new chief financial officer is hired. [Orbcomm]