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The launch of two commercial spacecraft on a Proton scheduled for Sept. 30 has been delayed. International Launch Services said Sept. 24 that the launch was postponed because of “an issue encountered during electrical testing,” but didn’t elaborate on the problem or say how long that issue will delay the launch. Russian sources said the rocket’s payload, the Eutelsat 5 West B satellite and Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle 1, were not attached correctly to the rocket’s upper stage, a problem that will take several days to correct. [TASS]
Colombian satellite teleport operator Axesat and German teleport operator Cetel have merged to form AXESS Networks. The new company, announced Sept. 25, provides satellite communications services through primary teleports in Germany, Mexico, Great Britain and Colombia, and partner sites in Peru and Dubai. AXESS Networks is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, with former Axesat President Mauricio Segovia serving as chief executive. CETel’s co-founder and former CEO Guido Neumann is AXESS’ chief development officer. The terms of the merger were not disclosed. [Axesat]
Cloud Constellation, a company developing a network of 10 satellites for orbiting memory storage, has partnered with Telespazio on forming go-to-market strategies for Europe and South America. The companies, through a memorandum of agreement, will work together on offering “Data Security as a Service” to government and corporate customers. Alessandro Caranci, senior vice president of Telespazio’s satcom business, said Cloud Constellation’s SpaceBelt service “fits perfectly in our strategy to go beyond satellite communications and provide integrated services to selected verticals.” [Telespazio]
RSSC and Thai operator Thaicom have agreed to study a roaming service for ships so they can stay connected on either company’s satellites. The “Agreement of Intention” is the first collaborative step for joint maritime services, the state-owned Russian Satellite Communications Co. and Thaicom said Sept. 20. Patompob Suwansiri, Thaicom’s chief commercial officer, said customers using the roaming service will have “full high speed broadband coverage of maritime vessel routes between Europe and Asia-Pacific.” [RSCC]
The growing adoption of satellite broadband is shifting the average mix of operator revenue such that by 2021, voice and data services should generate as much revenue as traditional broadcast services, according to Euroconsult. The research firm predicts the satellite communications market will reach $19.4 billion by 2028. Declining capacity prices drove down revenue in recent years despite an increase in supply, but Euroconsult predicts a return to growth starting in 2020 as inflight Wi-Fi, rural connectivity and cellular backhaul drive increased demand for satellite broadband. [SatellitePro ME]
Eutelsat is beginning its low-Earth-orbit constellation with two cubesats and two hosted payloads. The hosted payloads are slated to launch on Loft Orbital condo-style satellites next year, followed by cubesats from AAC Clyde Space in 2021. Eutelsat said results from those four spacecraft will determine if the company pursues a constellation of 25 satellites to connect sensors and devices as part of the rapidly growing Internet of Things. [SpaceNews]
Virgin Orbit is a step closer to the first launch of its LauncherOne vehicle.The company said Tuesday it shipped the rocket from its Long Beach, California, factory to the Mojave Air and Space Port, where it will undergo final testing, including a captive-carry flight on the company’s Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, before launch. The company didn’t give a schedule for that launch, but company officials previously said they expected the launch to take place later this fall. [SpaceNews]
Satellite operators say that latency requirements put them at a disadvantage when competing for a FCC rural broadband program. The FCC is seeking to connect up to four million U.S. homes and small businesses through a new program called the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that would subsidize broadband in underserved regions from 2020 to 2030. But companies who can’t provide service with 100 milliseconds or less latency will be penalized, making it more difficult for them to compete for funds. SES and Viasat said that the latency requirements make it difficult for satellites in medium or geostationary Earth orbits to participate even though the cutoff is “arbitrary” and would not be noticed by users. [SpaceNews]
A joint venture by Argentina and Turkey seeks to get into the geostationary satellite manufacturing business, despite weak demand. Gsatcom Space Technologies, a joint venture of Argentina’s state-run technology company INVAP and Turkey’s partly state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries, formed last year with the goal of building and selling small GEO satellites at home and abroad. Argentine and Turkish institutions are anticipated customers for the venture’s satellites, since both countries desire to maintain a satellite manufacturing capability. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.