Satellite fleet operator Intelsat says its investment in start-up OneWeb’s low-orbiting constellation of 700 Internet-delivery and cellular-backhaul satellites came in return for exclusive rights to a wide swath of OneWeb’s future markets.
Craig Clark, founder and CEO of Scotland’s Clyde Space Ltd., gives his views on the small satellite market and innovations like OneWeb’s planned mega-constellation venture.
Intelsat asked U.S. regulators to block a SpaceX launch of two small satellites to test technologies for a future low-orbiting Internet-delivery constellation, claiming SpaceX has refused to disclose sufficient information relating to potential frequency interference and collision risk.
Despite a wave of funding and contract announcements by competitor OneWeb, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said July 7 that his company is still taking a “careful” approach to plans for a communications satellite constellation.
OneWeb announced $500 million in equity coming from Indian and Mexican telecommunications providers, ground segment builders, the satellite prime contractor and even from an ostensible competitor in satellite fleet operator Intelsat. Intelsat will now be a OneWeb partner, with the two companies sharing customers and spectrum.
Start-up satellite Internet provider OneWeb LLC, in a move that will quiet, if not silence its doubters, on June 25 announced that it had raised $500 million in equity from sources as varied as Indian telecommunications network provider Bharti Enterprises, Coca-Cola and cellular network operator Totalplay Telecommunications Inc. of Mexico.
The low Earth orbit constellations planned by upstarts OneWeb and SpaceX have garnered comparisons to the 1990s space-telecom bust.
A new wave of small-satellite constellations for communications and remote sensing applications is attracting growing amounts of venture capital funding, but regulators worry they will struggle to keep up with the licenses these systems require.
Current and would-be providers of Ku- and Ka-band satellite broadband on March 18 said they have no concern that the high-throughput spacecraft on the way will cause a glut of in-orbit capacity.
OneWeb LLC Chief Technology Officer Dave Bettinger on March 18 said the company is within weeks of selecting a prime contractor for its 900 low orbiting Internet delivery satellites and that the first launches would occur in 2017.
On the verge of contracting for more than 600 low-orbiting satellites, OneWeb says it’s looking likely they can be built for around $400,000 apiece or less.
Chris Quilty, who tracks satellite companies for investment banker Raymond James, speaks with SpaceNews Editor Warren Ferster about the recent flood of Silicon Valley investment in audacious commercial space projects.
Wall Street analysts are peppering established satellite fleet operators with questions about how they plan to survive after the likes of Google, SpaceX, Facebook and OneWeb have launched hundreds or thousands of satellites, drones, balloons and other Internet-delivery platforms.