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Maxar Technologies completed a $291 million property sale in Palo Alto, California. The company said it will use the sale proceeds to help pay off a series of loans. Maxar plans to lease facilities it sold, one for two years at an annual rate of $12 million, and a second for 10 years at an annual rate of $8 million, according to November filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A former LeoSat employee has joined laser communications startup BridgeComm. Michael Abad-Santos, formerly LeoSat’s senior vice president covering the Americas, is now senior vice president of business development and strategy for BridgeComm, a company deploying a network of laser ground stations around the world to communicate with satellites. LeoSat laid off its 13 employees this summer after failing to raise enough money to continue with its low Earth orbit broadband constellation. Barry Matsumori, CEO of BridgeComm, said Abad-Santos’ “rare combination of executive experience and global industry relationships will be key for taking BridgeComm’s growth to the next level, including in the burgeoning 5G mobile sector.” [BridgeComm]
Panasonic Avionics signed a contract with Eutelsat to use capacity on the operator’s upcoming Eutelsat-10B satellite. Panasonic Avionics, which helped design the Eutelsat-10B satellite, plans to use Ku-band capacity over Europe, the Middle East and Africa, following its launch in 2022. Eutelsat-10B, under construction by Thales Alenia Space, is the second satellite in what Panasonic Avionics brands as its “XTS” or Extreme High Throughput service, which provides inflight Wi-Fi from high-throughput satellites. The first is the Chinese Apstar-6D satellite from APT Mobile Satcom, which is expected to launch in 2020. Panasonic competitor Gogo also plans to use Eutelsat-10B to provide inflight connectivity. [Eutelsat]
Telesat Canada gained access to $2.1 billion in loans through new credit agreements. The satellite operator on Dec. 11 said it amended an earlier credit agreement to include a new $1.91 billion loan facility and a $200 million revolving credit facility. Telesat used a mixture of cash on hand, loan facility resources and proceeds from a $400 million senior secured notes offering to pay off earlier senior credit facilities. The company said it has not yet used the $200 million revolving credit facility. Telesat is preparing to finance a constellation of around 300 broadband satellites expected to collectively cost several billion dollars to build and launch. [Telesat]
Viasat is expanding its residential satellite broadband service to Mexico. The company is offering home internet service with speeds up to 50 megabits per second using the ViaSat-2 satellite. Viasat launched the service Dec. 11 in select areas, with rollout across the country expected early next year. Service plans in Mexico include unlimited night-time usage between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. local time, and unlimited chat and browsing. Viasat had previously offered Wi-Fi in Mexico through community hotspots. [Viasat]
Intelsat is leading a working group focused on integrating satellites into 5G networks. The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions announced Intelsat as chair of the working group, which the alliance said will be “driven by satellite operators’ needs, while ensuring that mobile network operators and others can seamlessly and cost-effectively integrate with satellite systems.” The working group is tasked with creating technical proposals that help ensure an end-to-end communications standard by the third quarter of 2020. [ATIS]
OneWeb says it will add a grapple fixture to its satellites to make it easier for them to be serviced or deorbited. OneWeb said it will add a grapple fixture called DogTag from Altius Space Machines on its satellites so that future servicing vehicles can easily grab them while minimizing the chances of producing debris. OneWeb said the decision to add the grapple fixture is part of its broader “Responsible Space” initiative to address concerns about the role satellite megaconstellations will play in the growing population of orbital debris. [OneWeb]
A Swiss company has won a contract to perform an orbital debris removal mission for ESA. The ClearSpace-1 mission by ClearSpace is slated to launch in 2025 to capture and deorbit a 100-kilogram Vespa payload adapter a Vega rocket left in orbit after deploying ESA’s Proba-V remote-sensing satellite. ClearSpace will lead a consortium of European companies in building a spacecraft equipped with four robotic arms to capture debris and drag it into Earth’s atmosphere. The mission has an estimated cost of $129 million, with more than half the funding allocated at ESA’s ministerial meeting last month. [SpaceNews]
Satellite operator Kacific has borrowed $160 million to refinance loans for its first satellite. The company obtained the financing from the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank and GuarantCo, a European- and Australian-government backed infrastructure investment organization, along with other financiers. Kacific will use it to repay the short-term loans it obtained to fund development of Kacific-1, a Boeing-built satellite scheduled for launch next week by SpaceX. Kacific-1 carries 56 Ka-band spot beams designed to provide internet connectivity across more than 25 Asia-Pacific countries. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.