TAMPA, Fla. — Rivada Space Networks has secured the launches and financing it needs to deploy 300 satellites by a mid-2026 regulatory deadline, an executive said Feb. 23 a day after announcing a manufacturer for the constellation. 

The German venture, a subsidiary of U.S.-based wireless technology company Rivada Networks, said Feb. 22 that Florida-headquartered Terran Orbital would build the 500-kilogram satellites under a $2.4 billion contract.

“We have funding commitments from both existing shareholders in Rivada and some new investors, which are sufficient to meet our obligations,” Rivada Networks chair and CEO Declan Ganley told SpaceNews in an interview.

The financing covers the manufacturing contract and a launch announcement “coming up very soon,” he said, “and so those commitments are good for the foreseeable future.”

He declined to provide more details on the launch plan or name the investors backing its space-based communications project, except to say they are not government organizations.

“They are investors that saw the phenomenal commercial opportunity to invest in Rivada with all of the potential commercial upside that this offers them for a return on their investment,” Ganley added.

Terran Orbital hopes to have the first four satellites ready for a launch to low Earth orbit (LEO) as early as 2025.

The manufacturer must deliver 144 satellites before the end of March 2026, according to a regulatory filing on its agreement with Rivada, and the rest by the end of June 2026.

“Performance under the Agreement will be split into a developmental phase, with amounts billed on a time and materials basis, and a firm fixed price production phase,” Terran Orbital said in the Feb. 21 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rivada has spectrum licenses covering 576 proposed Ka-band satellites, and the contract includes an option for Terran Orbital to build the remaining spacecraft needed to complete the constellation.

Impending deadlines

Rivada has two spectrum filings lodged with the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations affiliate that regulates satellite spectrum rights globally, and each cover 288 satellites.

To avoid losing these spectrum rights under the ITU’s constellation milestone rules, Rivada must deploy 50% of the satellites in these filings by mid-2026 and the rest by mid-2028.

The contract for 300 satellites satisfies the 50% milestone and leaves 12 satellites to be kept on the ground as spares, Rivada Space Networks chief strategy officer Diederik Kelder said.

“So, for instance, if we ship our satellites to the launch site and a satellite falls off the ship, we [still] ensure that we have sufficient satellites on the launch pad to fulfill that milestone,” Kelder said.

The ITU adopted constellation deployment milestones in late 2019 to rein in a surge of proposed LEO satellites. 

The rules also require Rivada to deploy 10% of its full constellation — 56 satellites — by September this year.

However, Kelder said Rivada is eligible for a waiver under this initial milestone partly because its spectrum filings were processed before the rules took effect in 2019.

He said Rivada aims to submit a waiver request before the next ITU processing period between March and June.

“There’s very specific rules or regulations laid out to obtain a waiver,” he added, “we are fully convinced that we will comply with all those rules for the waiver — the contract that we just announced is part of that.”

Rivada acquired the spectrum filings in early 2022 in a deal that became embroiled in a shareholder dispute with investors that had also been looking to use the frequencies.

While there are still lawsuits outstanding, Ganley said these issues remain separated “from anything to do with these filings” and do not impact its proposed constellation. 

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...