Spacecom’s Amos-17 launching in August • OneWeb hits satellite testing milestones • Telebras cleared to issue new stock
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OneWeb says its first six satellites are all healthy and have each demonstrated live video streaming in 1080 resolution from low Earth orbit. The satellites reached speeds above 400 megabits per second, with less than 40 milliseconds of signal lag — under a tenth the time required for geostationary satellites. OneWeb said it is on track for partial service in 2020 and full service in 2021. The company is pursuing an initial constellation of 650 satellites, with plans to expand that number to 1,980 over time. User terminal provider Intellian and modem supplier Satixfy supplied equipment for the tests. [OneWeb]
Spacecom’s Amos-17 satellite is scheduled to launch in August on a Falcon 9 rocket. The Israeli satellite operator said July 17 that it signed up Nigerian broadcaster IDS Africa as a customer for the satellite prior to launch. IDS Africa plans to use capacity on the satellite to reach viewers in Nigeria and among the Nigerian diaspora in Europe. Amos-17 is equipped with C-, Ku- and Ka-band payloads for coverage over Africa, the Middle East and Europe. [Spacecom]
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has approved the sale of new shares in Telebras, the state-owned telecommunications company operating the SGDC-1 satellite. Telebras is authorized to issue 1.17 billion reals ($331 million) worth of new common or preferred shares. Telebras said the share issuance would be part of a capital raise to reimburse the government for credits granted last year and in 2015. The telco is viewed as a likely candidate for privatization under the Bolsonaro presidency. [BNamericas]
Satellite communications startup UbiquitiLink has raised more than $12 million for its plan to launch a constellation of satellites to extend the reach of terrestrial mobile networks. The company is developing technology that allows conventional cellphones to communicate directly with satellites, and tested its technology on a hosted payload flown on a Cygnus cargo spacecraft earlier this year. By the end of the year, UbiquitiLink plans to launch its first free-flying satellite, with the next two slated to launch in the spring of 2020. [SpaceNews]
Internet of Things startup Lacuna Space signed a contract with NanoAvionics to build a cubesat. NanoAvionics will integrate a payload from Lacuna Space into an M6P platform ahead of a Q4 launch aboard an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Lacuna Space’s payload uses the long-range LoRa Wide Area Network communications protocol to collect data from IoT devices. The U.K.-based company is planning a constellation of 32 nanosatellites in low Earth orbit. This satellite from NanoAvionics will be its fourth to launch with its LoRa payload. [NanoAvionics]
Russia launched a long-delayed astrophysics mission July 13. A Proton rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 8:30 a.m. Eastern and released the Spektr-RG spacecraft two hours later. The spacecraft is bound for the Earth-sun L-2 Lagrange point, where it will arrive in about three months. The joint Russian-German mission will carry out an all-sky survey at X-ray wavelengths. [Spaceflight Now]
Satellite electronics and component supplier Seakr Engineering will provide processors to Saturn Satellite Networks, the new small GEO satellite builder formed by past ABS executives. Seakr will provide radio-frequency processors for Saturn, with the first scheduled for delivery in 2020. Seakr said it finished a preliminary design review with Saturn. An “evolved” processor capable of supporting high-throughput satellites with up to 85 gigabits per second is under development, Seakr said. [Seakr]
3D Glass Solutions (3DGS), a company developing radio-frequency devices using glass-ceramics that have space applications, has raised $12 million. Japanese conglomerate Nagase & Company led the round, with participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures, Sun Mountain Capital and Murata Manufacturing Co. The company builds radiofrequency devices for markets ranging from 5G cellular networks to automotive radar for self-driving vehicles. Demand from the space industry is leading the company to expand, and the first satellite to carry 3DGS technology is scheduled to launch in the coming months. [SpaceNews]
Smallsats will be eligible for simpler licensing at a fraction of the cost of current licenses under a proposed FCC rule. To qualify for the streamlined licenses, the FCC proposal requires satellites either deploy into orbits below 600 kilometers or carry propulsion systems to deorbit satellites in six years. Those licenses would cost $30,000 instead of the $472,000 fee required today for satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits, but wouldn’t apply to megaconstellations of smallsats. FCC commissioners will vote on adopting the measure, which has broad industry support, at an Aug. 1 meeting. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.