OneWeb, Intellian partner on terminals • Telesat demos LEO backhaul • Atlas to provide grounds comms for PlanetiQ constellation
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OneWeb has partnered with antenna maker Intellian to provide communications terminals for its low Earth orbit broadband constellation. The Intellian terminals will use two dish antennas to track satellites in the OneWeb constellation. OneWeb plans to use the terminals, once they are ready in 2020, to connect businesses in rural areas, schools, hospitals, farms and other customers. OneWeb says it has “a range of antennas now in place” comprised of flat panels and dual parabolic dishes to support its constellation. The company has six satellites in orbit today, and plans to have 650 satellites up by the end of 2021. [OneWeb]
Telesat successfully backhauled 5G traffic over its prototype LEO broadband satellite. The demonstration, conducted with Vodafone and the University of Surrey, showed round-trip latencies of 18 to 40 milliseconds. The companies tested video chatting, web browsing, and video streaming in 4K and 8K ultra-HD. Ground equipment companies Newtec and Gilat provided modems for the tests. Telesat said the demonstration proved LEO satellites can provide effective backhaul transport for cellular networks. [Telesat]
Atlas Space Operations will provide ground communications for commercial weather startup PlanetiQ’s future constellation of 20 small satellites. Atlas will provide uplink and downlink communications for the satellites, collecting their data and providing telemetry, command and control services. PlanetiQ’s first four satellites launch this fall. The satellites will carry radio occultation sensors to measure temperature, air pressure and water vapor content. [Business Wire]
Turkish satellite operator Turksat has partnered with flat-panel antenna company Kymeta. Turksat will work with Kymeta on connectivity solutions for internet connectivity, television and radio broadcasting, and voice calling. Turksat Vice President Hasan Hüseyin Ertok said the Kymeta’s antenna technology will “allow us to pursue previously untapped markets and applications.” [Kymeta]
SpaceX plans to launch its first set of “dozens” of Starlink broadband satellites next week, with as many as six more launches to follow this year alone. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, speaking on a conference panel Tuesday, confirmed the May 15 launch date for the mission, which she said will place dozens of satellites into orbit, although she did not state a specific number. Those satellites will be a “demonstration set” with broadband payloads and electric propulsion, but without intersatellite links. She said she expects the company to launch two to six more sets of Starlink satellites this year as the company works to build out a constellation that could ultimately number 12,000 satellites. [SpaceNews]
Satellite operators are worried about losing Ka-band satellite spectrum to terrestrial 5G services. Chief executives of several major satellite operators raised concerns about access to Ka-band spectrum at 28 gigahertz in a panel discussion Tuesday, arguing that the industry has not done enough to defend that spectrum from being reallocated for 5G services. They contrasted that effort with a more successful defense of C-band spectrum in 2015. Cellular operators and their allied national regulators are expected to make a push for the 28-gigahertz spectrum band at the WRC-19 conference this fall. [SpaceNews]
Airbus won an order from Measat for one satellite that will replace two existing spacecraft. Airbus will build Measat-3d, a new communications satellite that will “progressively replace” the 13-year-old Measat-3 and the 10-year-old Measat-3a satellites. Its design calls for C- and Ku-band payloads for direct-to-home television broadcasting and other telecom services, as well as a high-throughput Ka-band payload for internet connectivity. Measat plans to have Measat-3d in orbit in 2021 at the 91.5 degrees east orbital slot. [SpaceNews]
Hughes and Yahsat have announced a second joint venture, this time serving Brazil. The companies said Monday that the new joint venture will use more than 65 gigabits per second of Ka-band capacity supplied from Yahsat’s Al Yah 3 satellite and Hughes’ leased payloads on Eutelsat’s 65 West A satellite and Telesat’s Telstar 19 Vantage satellite, which combined can serve 95 percent of Brazil’s population. The two companies formed a similar joint venture last year to provide satellite broadband across Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia. [SpaceNews]
Reprogrammable satellites provide operators with flexibility, but could also be a cybersecurity threat. Satellite operators are increasingly interested in software-defined satellites that can be reprogrammed on orbit, allowing them to take on different missions and serve different customers. However, industry officials said such satellites require very secure operations to keep nefarious actors from exploiting their new capabilities. Commercial satellites could take advantage of security capabilities already developed for military spacecraft. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.