The satellite industry generated more than $260 billion in revenues in 2016, according to a new report.
The annual State of the Satellite Industry report by the Satellite industry Association found that overall revenues for the industry grew by two percent, although the Earth-observation market grew at a much faster clip.
The report found there were more than 1,450 active satellites in orbit at the end of last year, an increase of nearly 50 percent in five years. [SpacePolicyOnline]
The new National Space Council won’t accelerate the development of a new national space policy, two people who served on the NASA transition team predicted. In a panel session at an AIAA conference Tuesday, Sandra Magnus and Chris Shank said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the council, reestablished in late June by President Trump, but expected it could take two years or more to develop a formal national space policy to replace the one issued by the Obama administration in 2010. They also defended the delays in nominating a NASA administrator, noting the challenges of vetting nominees and other priorities facing the administration. [SpaceNews]
The British government announced plans Tuesday to invest more than 100 million pounds ($130 million) into the country’s space industry. Most of that investment will go into expanding satellite testing facilities at the Harwell “science campus,” with a smaller investment into a rocket motor manufacturing and test site at Wescott. Government officials said the investment was needed to ensure the U.K. maintained its position in the growing satellite industry. [BBC]
A ground station Planet built in Canada is stuck in regulatory limbo. The U.S. company, which operates a constellation of remote-sensing satellites, built the facility in northern Canada, anticipating it could meet up to one-third of its communications needs. However, the company has faced mounting delays in getting a license from Global Affairs Canada, which administers the country’s remote-sensing law, with few details about the reasons for the delays. Planet has established backup ground station capacity in other countries while it awaits a long-term solution to the issue. [SpaceNews]
An advisory board warns that a broadband network proposed by Ligado still poses a threat to GPS signals. A letter by the National Space‐based Position Navigation and Timing Advisory Board did not cite Ligado by name, but described a network similar to that proposed by the company that can “cause definitive harmful interference” to GPS receivers. Ligado, previously known as LightSquared, proposed repurposing satellite spectrum for a national wireless system in 2010, but the FCC stopped that effort in 2012 because of GPS interference worries. Ligado argues that testing it has done shows GPS receivers can coexist with its network, but the advisory board criticized that testing. [Inside GNSS]
A former SpaceX and Virgin Galactic executive is now CEO of BridgeSat. Parent company Allied Minds announced Wednesday that Barry Matsumori will be the new chief executive of BridgeSat, effective next week. Matsumori worked in business development roles at Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, and previously was an executive at Qualcomm. BridgeSat is developing an optical communications network to support low Earth orbit satellite constellations. [Allied Minds]
Ruag opened a factory in Florida Tuesday that will support OneWeb. The Swiss company formally opened the Titusville, Florida, factory that will manufacture satellite components. Its initial customer will be OneWeb, which is building a factory near the Kennedy Space Center to manufacture its constellation of broadband satellites. [Florida Today]
Australia has signed a strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) that could lead to it becoming a member state. The 10-year partnership will give Australian astronomers access to ESO’s telescopes in Chile. Australia will provide financial contributions to ESO during the partnership, and will be eligible to become a full-fledged member of the multinational organization at the end of the agreement. [ESO]
Elon Musk may hold off updating his Mars architecture until this September’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Australia. Musk unveiled his plans at last year’s IAC in Mexico, and this spring indicated an update was forthcoming soon. However, in a tweet this week, he said he might wait until this year’s IAC in Adelaide, Australia, to release a revised version of the plan. Musk would have other reasons to travel to Australia then: his electric automobile company, Tesla, recently signed an agreement to provide 100 megawatts of battery capacity for the South Australia power grid. [GeekWire]
Whenever those Mars settlers arrive, they will already have an anthem. The Mars Society announced Tuesday the release of “Rise to Mars!”, which had its world premiere last month at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Its operatic lyrics include “Dare to dream! Dare to strive! Build a home for our children. Make this desert come alive!” Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society and co-author of the anthem, said in a statement that he “would not at all be surprised if it someday became the national anthem of a Free Martian Republic.” [The Mars Society]