Avanti CTO Retiring in June
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Avanti’s co-founder and CTO, David Bestwick, will retire in June after 18 years at the company. His retirement is scheduled to occur one month before Hylas-4, Avanti’s newest satellite, enters service. Bestwick will be the second major executive departure for Avanti in less than a year. David Williams, chief executive and fellow co-founder, left the company in August 2017. Avanti, whose third quarter closed March 31, reported a nine-month, $18 million operating loss amid declining revenue. [Avanti]
Viasat is soon to file an insurance claim for its newest satellite, ViaSat-2, which is beaming down 15 percent less capacity than expected because of an antenna malfunction. Mark Dankberg, Viasat’s CEO, said the company intends to submit proof of loss within the next month. Viasat still considers the Ka-band ViaSat-2 satellite “the most capable broadband satellite ever.” Aviation customers are expected to use around half the satellite’s capacity, a much larger chunk than on ViaSat-1, which is around 90 percent residential consumer broadband. [SpaceNews]
YahSat’s Al Yah 3 satellite has reached its orbital slot at 20 degrees east and is ready to start commercial service. The satellite arrived slightly earlier than YahSat’s prediction after its January Ariane 5 launch sent the satellite into an off-nominal geostationary transfer orbit. Following the launch, YahSat expected the satellite would need until June to reach its orbital slot, about four months longer than what would have been needed after a normal launch. Al Yah 3 is YahSat’s third satellite, and splits its coverage between Africa and Brazil. [YahSat]
Members of the European Space Agency have decided not to split production of the P120 booster between Italy and Germany, instead keeping a single manufacturing line at Avio’s factory near Rome. Germany will instead build the liquid oxygen turbo pumps for Ariane 6, and will apply $80.8 million intended for the booster production line to carbon fiber technologies for an Ariane 6 upper stage upgrade. The compromise reversed a 2016 decision that, while popular in Germany, was viewed unfavorably in Italy. [SpaceNews]
Weather forecasts are less than promising for a Falcon 9 launch later this week. Those forecasts predict only a 40 percent chance of acceptable weather for a launch scheduled for 12:29 a.m. Eastern Friday at the beginning of an hour-long launch window. The Falcon 9 is carrying the SES-12 communications satellite for SES. Should the launch be scrubbed, it’s unclear when the next attempt would take place because the Eastern Range is beginning a two-week maintenance period. [Florida Today]
Viasat expects to place an order for a third ViaSat-3 broadband satellite, serving the Asia-Pacific region, before the end of this year. Company CEO Mark Dankberg said last week that that Asia-Pacific satellite is harder to design than the first two, covering the Americas and Europe and Africa, because of challenges developing the right coverage footprint and identifying a suitable anchor customer. The company’s budget for this satellite is “a little tighter” after Eutelsat dropped out of plans of jointly financing another ViaSat-3 satellite, Dankberg said, but added that Viasat was negotiating with satellite manufacturers to get a good deal for the Asia-Pacific satellite. [SpaceNews]
The first two demonstration satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink system are working well in orbit. In a tweet over the weekend, Elon Musk said that the two satellites, Tintin A and B, were performing “pretty good” three months after their launch as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 launch of the Paz radar satellite. The satellites, he said, were “closing the link to ground with phased array at high bandwidth, low latency.” He later said the company planned to launch another version of demo satellites before moving ahead with development of the full constellation. [Teslarati]
Inmarsat says business jets will be able to use its hybrid satellite and terrestrial European Aviation Network starting in early 2019. Like larger commercial aircraft, Inmarsat says business jets will be able to reach 75 Mbps using its combination of satellite and mobile LTE connectivity. EAN has low enough latency to support online gaming, according to Inmarsat, and throughput to deliver 4K ultra-HD video. [Inmarsat]
Spaceopal, the company operating Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites, has selected fleet operator SES to support maintenance and operations for the constellation. SES will monitor the Galileo satellites, and manage a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) network for Telespazio to disseminate Galileo data. The European Commission has 22 Galileo satellites in medium Earth orbits. SES has provided ground stations and performed in-orbit testing for Galileo satellites. [SES]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.