SoftBank to help OneWeb with product dev • Phasor makes antenna progress • Kleos Space waits out Rocket Lab delay
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OneWeb investor SoftBank says it will help the satellite operator with product development and forming commercial partnerships. SoftBank, which has invested more than $1 billion into OneWeb, said it will leverage its experience in the telecommunications sector with OneWeb, focusing on satellite solutions from a user perspective. OneWeb has six of a planned 650 satellites in low Earth orbit, and intends to start commercial demonstrations in 2020. Full service is anticipated in 2021. [SoftBank]
Phasor says the flat panel antenna it is developing with in-flight connectivity provider Gogo will be ready for testing by the end of this year. Certification for aviation use is expected in 2020. Phasor is focusing first on a Ku-band antenna, since many aircraft rely on Ku-band satellites for connectivity, but the company also plans to start developing a Ka-band version this year. Phasor CEO Dave Helfgott said the company would like to have a partner for that version, but will begin the work regardless. [Runway Girl Network]
Signal geolocation company Kleos Space will have to wait a little while longer for its next launch. Rocket Lab, the launch provider for Kleos Space’s second mission, said it may take until October to launch the satellites instead of by August. Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer said the company will work on a second generation of satellites, as well as product development and lining up additional customers during the launch delay. “[O]ur team has ensured that our satellites are mission ready, but we cannot launch without a vehicle,” Bowyer said. [ITWire]
Hughes Network Systems received an $11.8 million research and development contract from the U.S. Army July 24. The contract tasks Hughes with demonstrating a narrowband satellite communications architecture with machine learning and artificial intelligence features. The demonstration will aim to improve network management, automated control, and system interoperability for the Army. [Hughes]
Satellites connecting sensors and other Internet of Things devices will eventually compete with terrestrial communications instead of just providing links in remote locations, according to ABI Research. The advisory firm identified markets like agriculture and asset tracking that are often beyond the reach of cellular signals as long term growth markets for satellite IoT. The development of nanosatellite systems and larger low Earth orbit megaconstellations will drive competition in the IoT space while expanding that market since cellular networks only cover 20 percent of the Earth’s surface, according to an ABI report. [ABI Research]
An Italian team will build a communications satellite as part of a European Commission program. Under an Italian Space Agency contract, the value of which was not disclosed, Thales Alenia Space Italy will build the Ital-GovSatCom satellite with a consortium of Italian companies, with Telespazio handling ground systems and satellite operations. Govsatcom is a European Commission program conducted with the European Defence Agency and European Space Agency to provide a middle tier of satellite services between those offered by commercial satellites and highly protected military satellite communications. [SpaceNews]
Lockheed Martin has made a “strategic” investment in small launch vehicle developer ABL Space Systems. That investment, the size of which the companies did not disclose, will support continued development of ABL Space System’s RS1 rocket, slated to make a first launch next year. The companies emphasized the role the RS1 could play in responsive space applications for the military. Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture capital arm of the company, previously invested in another small launch vehicle company, Rocket Lab. [SpaceNews]
Lockheed Martin reported an increase in revenue and profits for its space division in its fiscal second quarter. Lockheed’s space unit reported an operating profit of $288 million on net sales of $2.7 billion in the second quarter of 2019, compared to a $274 million operating profit and net sales of $2.43 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Government satellite programs were responsible for the increase in sales, while improved commercial satellite program performance helped boost profits. However, earnings from its stake in United Launch Alliance dropped from $50 million to $15 million. [Lockheed Martin]
OneWeb Satellites inaugurated a factory in Florida July 22 that will ultimately produce two OneWeb satellites a day. The 9,750-square-meter factory, just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center, was built initially to produce broadband internet satellites for OneWeb. The high production rate is needed to support OneWeb’s plans to launch more than 30 satellites at a time on a monthly cadence starting in December, as it seeks to deploy its initial 648-satellite constellation over the next two years. However, OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture of Airbus and OneWeb, plans to use the facility for other customers as well, including DARPA’s Blackjack program. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.