JSAT delays earnings • Orbcomm confident during pandemic
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Japanese satellite operator Sky Perfect JSAT is delaying its annual financial report by seven weeks, citing the coronavirus. The company said it needs extra time for employees and auditors to finalize the results while working under emergency rules put in place by the Japanese government to curb the coronavirus pandemic. JSAT now anticipates releasing its earnings June 26. The earnings delay will have a one-month knock-on effect on JSAT’s annual securities report, which is now expected July 30. JSAT said it may see declines in television broadcasting because of the lack of live sporting events, and a decline in satellite broadband demand for aircraft and ships. [Sky Perfect JSAT]
OneWeb is raising the last 34 satellites it launched before going bankrupt to a 600 kilometer orbit instead of their target 1,200-kilometer orbit. Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb’s chief technology officer, said on Twitter that 600 kilometers is a “sweet spot in terms of radiation and flexibility” while OneWeb conducts a sale of its spectrum. “We want to preserve satellite life while our situation gets resolved,” he said. [Twitter/@M_Ladovaz]
Internet-of-things focused satellite operator Orbcomm says it is well positioned to weather coronavirus pandemic. The company is still manufacturing devices and shipping products with help from subcontractors. Most of Orbcomm’s 800 employees are working remotely. Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg said the coronavirus pandemic and a reduction in travel has resulted in small revenue declines and a small drop in share price. “The business is not unaffected, but we are in a good position to ride out the storm and hit the ground running when markets recover,” he said. [Orbcomm]
Xtar and Hisdesat are evaluating life-extension options for their two geostationary communications satellites. Xtar CEO Jay Icard said the company has discussed life extension with Northrop Grumman, whose first Mission Extension Vehicle returned an Intelsat satellite to service earlier this month. Hisdesat ordered two replacement satellites from Airbus Defence and Space that are projected to launch in 2023. Xtar and Hisdesat want to relocate their legacy satellites over the Asia Pacific, a move that would give them global coverage. Hisdesat said a decision on how to keep its legacy satellites running will be made in the coming months. [SpaceNews]
Azerbaijani satellite operator Azercosmos reported 20 million manats ($11.8 million in revenue for the first three months of 2020, up 33% year over year. The state-owned operator said 88% of those revenues came from customers in other countries, including the U.S., Germany and the United Arab Emirates. Azercosmos operates two geostationary telecommunications satellites and one remote-sensing satellite in low Earth orbit. The company said it signed around a dozen new telecommunications customers during the quarter, but still felt negative impacts from the coronavirus. [Azercosmos]
SpaceX has filed an application with the FCC seeking to operate all its first-generation satellites in lower orbits. Those 4,400 satellites were originally approved to operate at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers, but last year the FCC approved a license modification that allowed SpaceX to operate 1,600 of them at 550 kilometers. On Friday, SpaceX asked the FCC for authorization to operate the remaining 2,800 of the 4,400 first-generation Starlink satellites between 540 and 570 kilometers. SpaceX has touted lower altitudes as a key element of its plans to prevent space debris, since gravity will pull dead satellites below 650 kilometers into Earth’s atmosphere within the 25-year disposal time frame of existing regulations. [SpaceNews]
Inmarsat has hired a former executive from British telecom giant BT. Damien Staples, the former vice president of wholesale voice and roaming at BT Global Services in 2018, is now Inmarsat’s vice president of wholesale. Staples announced the appointment on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Staples left BT after a company reorganization. [Capacity Media]
The FCC approved Ligado’s 5G network Monday despite concerns about potential interference with GPS. The FCC gave its approval for a nationwide network by Ligado that will use L-band spectrum for 5G and internet-of-things applications. The Defense Department had previously warned that Ligado’s network risked “crippling” GPS, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper reiterating that opposition. While Esper said nearly a dozen other agencies shared his concerns, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cheered the FCC decision, calling it “essential to our country’s growth and global economic security.” The FCC has argued that lower signal power levels and the introduction of a guard band would prevent Ligado’s network from interfering with GPS. [SpaceNews]
OneWeb’s suppliers are looking for new customers after the satellite megaconstellation company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When OneWeb filed for bankruptcy March 27 after launching just 74 satellites, it left suppliers in a state of limbo. Suppliers of components for OneWeb’s satellites say they don’t know what, if any, future opportunities remain with OneWeb, but that they are preparing for whatever happens next. Some companies say they can repurpose investments they made in increased manufacturing capability for other customers, but others may face difficulties making up for the lost business. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.