Airbus, Eutelsat win ESA study contracts • Leonardo CEO to lead industry group
The European Space Agency has awarded study contracts to Airbus and Eutelsat consortia to identify what solutions and “disruptive technologies” the agency should focus on, with the goal of helping European and Canadian satellite communications companies succeed. ESA said the teams will study the pros and cons of large satellites in geostationary orbit, smaller satellites in low Earth orbit, satellite ground systems and other topics. The consortia are required to submit their reports to ESA by the end of February. [ESA]
Cubesat builder AAC Clyde Space says customers that delayed orders earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic are returning, which should result in a surge in sales late this year and into the beginning of 2021. AAC Clyde Space expects to end 2020 with roughly 100 million Swedish krona ($11.4 million) in sales, up more than 50% from 2019. The company reported 42 million Swedish krona in sales for the first half of 2020. [AAC Clyde Space]
The CEO of Leonardo, Alessandro Profumo, will lead the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) for a two-year term, Leonardo announced Sept. 21. ASD represents more than 3,000 small to medium-sized businesses across Europe, as well as many of the continent’s largest companies involved in space, defense, aviation and security. Profumo said he will “work to ensure that the potential of the [aerospace, defense and security] sector is recognised, deployed and supported with effective tools and investments, promoting a continuous and transparent dialogue with European stakeholders.” ASD has a division called Eurospace that focuses on the space sector. [Leonardo]
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Amazon, OneWeb, SES mPower, SpaceX, and Telesat could generate $68 billion in revenue over the next decade, though some constellations will be more successful than others, according to NSR. With constellations launching through 2024, “all eyes will be on the performance of Broadband and Trunking applications, along with utilizing software to optimize network and price and avoid interference as each player tries to maximize revenue,” NSR said. The influence of megaconstellations could push established geostationary satellite operators to consolidate in order to compete more effectively, according to the research firm. [NSR]
OneWeb has revised its launch contract with Arianespace with three fewer launches than originally planned. The revised contract, announced Monday, includes 16 Soyuz launches that will each carry 34 to 36 satellites. The revised contract canceled two Soyuz launches and removed OneWeb as the customer for the inaugural Ariane 6 launch. Those Soyuz launches are set to resume in December from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East. The revised contract is subject to approval of OneWeb’s restructuring plan led by the British government and Bharti Global. [SpaceNews]
Microsoft unveiled a service Tuesday to connect satellites to its cloud computing infrastructure. Azure Orbital offers a “ground station as a service,” allowing customers to directly connect with satellites and downlink and process data from them. Microsoft is partnering with several companies for the service, including KSAT, whose network of more than 200 satellite antennas will be part of Azure Orbital. The new service competes directly with Amazon, whose Amazon Web Services previously announced a similar service to support space and launch operations. [SpaceNews]
African broadcast company Azam TV has renewed and expanded a contract with Eutelsat for capacity over Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda. Azam TV migrated from the seven-year-old Eutelsat-7B to the one-year-old Eutelsat 7C satellite, where it acquired additional capacity under a multiyear contract. The pay-TV operator will use the capacity to distribute a mix of 120 standard and high-definition channels. [Eutelsat]
L3Harris has won a Space Force contract to upgrade and expand a network of space tracking telescopes. The $119 million contract covers work on the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) that tracks objects in geostationary orbits. The work funds upgrades to existing GEODSS sensors and the design of new ground-based optical sensors at European and Pacific sites. The contract will be worth $218 million if all options are exercised to build two new sites in Spain and Australia. [SpaceNews]
Azerbaijani satellite operator Azercosmos announced a partnership Sept. 22 to provide capacity for broadcast customer ViewMedia. Azercosmos’s Azerspace-1 satellite will provide capacity for ViewMedia customers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. [Azercosmos]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.