FIRST UP Satcom | Preston Padden leaves C-Band Alliance • Telesat earnings down

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TOP STORIES

The C-Band Alliance’s head of advocacy and government relations Preston Padden left the organization Tuesday after less than six months in the position. Padden cited difficulty balancing work in D.C. when his family and residence are located in Colorado. Padden said he will work with his successor for the C-Band Alliance, comprised of fleet operators Intelsat, and SES of Luxembourg, Paris-based Eutelsat and Ottawa, Canada-based Telesat, on a C-band transition plan and will consult the organization from Colorado. [TV Technology]

Padden’s departure occurred as U.S. lawmakers voiced concern over the possibility of foreign satellite operators receiving large sums of money from selling C-band spectrum that could instead go to the U.S. Treasury. C-Band Alliance members use the spectrum to broadcast television and radio programming to more than 100 million U.S. households, but have offered to part with 200 megahertz of the spectrum so network operators can use it for 5G services. The spectrum sale could generate $40 billion for the four satellite operators. “I think we have to ask ourselves: why should the FCC allow a group of foreign satellite providers to walk away with potentially tens of billions of dollars that could be used to solve our own country’s broadband needs?” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said. [Bloomberg Law]

Canadian fleet operator Telesat swung to a loss for 2018, citing foreign exchange losses on U.S. dollar-denominated debt. Telesat reported a loss of 91 million Canadian dollars ($67.7 million at current exchange rates) for 2018, in contrast to 505 million Canadian dollars in profit the year prior. Short-term contracts that ended in 2017 made for a difficult fourth-quarter comparison, Telesat said. The company reported 232 million Canadian dollars in revenue for the three-month period ending Dec. 31, down 8 percent. Total annual revenue declined 3 percent to 903 million Canadian dollars. [Ottawa Business Journal]

MORE STORIES

Television broadcaster Sky launched a streaming service in Austria that doesn’t rely on satellite or cable transmission. The Sky X service is designed so that younger viewers can watch television “without the need for a cable or satellite connection,” according to Christine Schell, managing director at Sky Austria. Schell described Sky X as “the ideal product for ‘Generation Mobile.’” Sky is offering Sky X without monthly contracts, and is making content viewable via an app for smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, computers and game consoles. [Digital TV Europe]

Kymeta trialed its flat panel user terminals with the World Bank and Airbus during a project that gathered road safety data across 742 kilometers of Peru. The project used Intelsat satellite capacity, cellular coverage from Cubic Telecom, and a software-defined wireless network solution from Cradlepoint to keep buses connected in rural and urban parts of the country. Kymeta said the connected buses will help collect information about roads between Peru’s capital city, Lima, and other cities separated by Amazonian jungle. Alberto Rodríguez, director of the World Bank for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, said the data will go toward finding and resolving challenges related to transport logistics and road safety, including meteorology. Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications is supporting the program. [Kymeta]

Cubesat constellation company Spire is looking to grow its business with the Pentagon. The company announced Tuesday it is hiring Paul Damphousse to lead its national security business development work. Damphousse was chief of advanced concepts at the former National Security Space Office while serving in the Marine Corps and has also worked in industry, most recently at SES Government Solutions. Spire says it’s seeing increased interest from the Defense Department for capabilities its smallsats can provide, either using existing sensors or customized ones that can be added to new satellites. Spire expects to launch 30 to 40 new satellites this year, but with additional and improved sensors that make each satellite about 10 times as powerful as those it launched just a couple years ago. [SpaceNews]

The French space agency CNES and the Indian space agency ISRO agreed to form a maritime surveillance center in India. The agencies plan to set up a center that can find, recognize and track ships from space, starting in May. CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and ISRO Chairman Sivan K signed the agreement March 6. The two agency heads also discussed collaboration on reusable launch vehicles, other launch technology and climate monitoring initiatives. [CNES]

Smallsat manufacturing joint venture LeoStella has a new CEO. Mike Hettich, a former vice president at Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems, takes over at the company from Chris Chautard, who is returning to Thales Alenia Space. Thales and Spaceflight Industries are partners in LeoStella, which recently opened a factory in the Seattle area to make small satellites for the BlackSky remote sensing constellation and other customers. [GeekWire]

The European Defence Agency is supporting a 9.18 million euro ($10.4 million) program to develop a propulsion system for satellites operating in very low Earth orbits below 250 kilometers. The “CLOSE to Earth” (Constellation at very Low Earth Orbit based on RAM-EP Small SatellitEs) project tasks an Italian consortium led by the Italian Aerospace Technological Cluster (Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale) with creating a propulsion system that can use atmospheric gases present at low altitudes as fuel for a Hall-Effect thruster. The CLOSE to Earth project also foresees the study of a spacecraft under 500 kilograms that could host the thruster. [European Defence Agency]

SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.