Firefly, Innovative Space Logistics sign launch agreement • Viasat nabs $90M IDIQ contract
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Dutch launch broker Innovative Space Logistics and Firefly Aerospace signed a launch services agreement for launch opportunities on multiple Firefly Alpha missions starting this year. Innovative Space Logistics will offer its customers rideshares and dedicated launches with Firefly Alpha, which has a first flight scheduled for April. Innovative Space Logistics Director Abe Bonnema praised Firefly Alpha’s “capacity to cost ratio,” saying the rocket can serve a wide range of customers and also help the company bring satellites into lunar orbit. [Firefly Aerospace]
Viasat received an Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity contract worth up to $90 million from the U.S. Air Force to supply Link 16 handheld radios. Viasat says its BATS-D, or Battlefield Awareness Targeting System—Dismounted, radios are the only handheld radios in the world that use Link 16, an encrypted radio frequency for military users. Viasat’s IDIQ award also covers associated operator training and maintenance. The company received a contract in May 2019 to build a low-Earth-orbit satellite with an onboard Link 16 communications terminal. [Viasat]
Parsons is continuing to increase its presence in the space sector following receipt of a General Services Administration task order focused on cybersecurity for space missions. The company will provide several cyber services, including risk assessment, architecture development, secure communications and systems engineering and integration for space missions. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. [Parsons]
Spanish communications provider Eurona says it has renegotiated capacity contracts with Hispasat and Avanti that will save it close to 9 million euros ($10 million) a year. Eurona said it revised the contracts to adjust to “strong competition in the telecoms sector.” Eurona said the agreements affect satellite capacity used for broadband in Spain and Morocco. [Eurona]
A startup has raised more than $100 million to provide vehicle connectivity using geostationary satellites. Skylo exited from stealth mode Tuesday by announcing it raised $103 million in a Series B round led by SoftBank. The company earlier raised $13 million from several funds, including Boeing HorizonX. Skylo has developed a compact satellite terminal to connect machines to its network using capacity on existing GEO communications satellites. The company argues this approach can provide frequent and affordable connectivity to trucks, boats or other vehicles. [SpaceNews]
Kaman Precision Products, a provider of position measuring systems, is the newest member of the Satellite Industry Association. Kaman joined as an Affiliate Member, increasing that member number to 16. SIA has more than 50 members in total that it represents on policy issues. Kaman provides products that detect position change for telescopes, airborne and space-based sensors, and image stabilization systems. Its parent company, Kaman Corporation, is based in Bloomfield, Connecticut. [SIA]
The European Union is providing 200 million euros ($222 million) in funding to support Europe’s space industry. Half the funding, announced Tuesday, would be in the form of a loan to ArianeGroup to help the company finance its share of the cost of the Ariane 6. The other half will be invested in funds supporting space startups in Europe. EU officials said the funding represents a “game changer” in its support for European space companies. [SpaceNews]
Isotropic Networks, a teleport operator and satellite network provider, has completed a series of tests using Kymeta’s flat panel antenna. Isotropic tested Kymeta’s u7 antenna in Seattle earlier this month, using an iDirect X7 satellite router and iQ 200LTE modem. The tests showed the antenna could operate across multiple satellite beams and networks, the companies said. Kymeta’s u7 terminal is available on Isotropic’s network today. The antenna company said it will use satellite capacity through Isotropic’s Lake Geneva Earth Station to test a next-generation antenna. [Isotropic Networks]
A space propulsion startup is also examining a drone-launch system. Dawn Aerospace, with facilities in New Zealand and the Netherlands, is commercializing thrusters that use nitrous oxide and propene instead of hydrazine, with the first of those thrusters flying on smallsats launching this year. The company is interested in expanding that technology to a launch system, which would feature a suborbital spaceplane that then deploys a two-stage rocket that could place up to several hundred kilograms into low Earth orbit. Company officials said such a vehicle would not fly for at least four years, though. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.