Inmarsat buyout clears CFIUS review • iDirect buys Glowlink • FIFA blames Arabsat for enabling piracy
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Inmarsat’s acquisition by Bidco passed a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which concluded that the $3.3 billion merger has “no unresolved national security issues,” Inmarsat and Bido said Sept. 18. Inmarsat, while located in the United Kingdom, provides satellite communications services for the U.S. military. Bidco said it anticipates the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will complete its review in the near future, keeping the merger on track to close by the end of the year. [Inmarsat/Bidco]
Satellite ground infrastructure company iDirect has acquired Glowlink, a signal interference company based in Mountain View, California. iDirect’s parent company ST Engineering in Singapore said the acquisition positions iDirect to meet an expected increase in demand for interference mitigation technologies as 5G mobile networks and the proliferation of smallsat constellations creates a more complicated spectrum environment. iDirect said its aggregate purchase consideration for Glowlink was $20 million, plus up to $5 million in employee retention payments. The merger follows ST Engineering’s proposed 250 million euro ($276.3 million) purchase of Newtec, announced in March. [ST Engineering]
Saudi Arabia-based satellite operator Arabsat has been linked “without question” to a large-scale piracy operation that stole and aired hundreds of soccer games, according to FIFA and several other organizations. Brand protection company MarkMonitor released a report Sept. 16 that said content pirated by an organization called beoutQ were being broadcast via Arabsat. Qatar-based BEin Sports, the rights holder for the soccer games, has blamed Arabsat for supporting beoutQ for more than two years. Arabsat has denied any involvement. The beoutQ piracy problem is viewed as a proxy war in an ongoing boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. [New York Times]
Ruag Space has opened a new facility in Austria that it will use to build thermal insulation for Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket. The facility, in Berndorf, south of Vienna, will use glass and ceramic materials to produce high-temperature insulation capable of withstanding temperatures reaching 1,500 degrees Celsius (roughly 2,730 degrees Fahrenheit). Ruag said it is leveraging experience building thermal insulation for satellites, such as Iridium Next and OneWeb, for rockets. The facility will also produce insulation for MRI scanners and for liquefied natural gas tanks. [Ruag Space]
Khrunichev says it plans to build 11 more Proton rockets before closing down its production line. The director general of the Russian company said four of those 11 Protons are already being assembled with the remaining seven to be completed by 2020 or 2021. Russia plans to phase out the Proton by 2025 in favor of Angara rocket. [TASS]
Cubesat builder GomSpace and ground station services provider Leaf Space said Sept. 17 that their customers can use Leaf Space’s shared ground station network without integration fees. Leaf Space, an Italian startup building a network of 12 ground stations, has integrated GomSpace transceivers into its infrastructure, the companies said. As part of a memorandum of understanding, GomSpace said it will also integrate Leaf Space services in its Mega Constellations Operations Platform. GomSpace and Leaf Space said their collaboration is nonexclusive, and that customers can choose from “compatible complementary services that best fit their mission needs.” [GomSpace]
Iridium and OneWeb announced plans Tuesday to develop a combined service offering. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on joint satellite services, with maritime likely an early focus area for collaboration. Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium, said the companies are still discussing what their partnership will ultimately look like. Those discussions include combined physical products, commercial approaches and operational back-office solutions. [SpaceNews]
An investor group wants to make it easier for people to find jobs with space companies. The Space Talent job database, announced Tuesday, includes nearly 3,000 job openings at Blue Origin, SpaceX and other space startups. The database is a project of Space Angels, which said it’s intended to help startups grow by aggregating job openings into a single location for anyone interested in working in the field. [CNBC]
An African communications provider has doubled the amount of capacity it is leasing on Spacecom’s Amos-7 satellite. Botswana Telecommunications Corporation doubled its Ku-band capacity lease, Spacecom said, to support cellular backhaul and remote broadband. Spacecom said it is helping Botswana Telecommunications Corporation add infrastructure for new services through the satellite operator’s vertical solutions division [Spacecom]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.