This year saw some long-predicted industry consolidation finally come to pass as Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat acquired Starlink competitor OneWeb and Viasat merged with London-based Inmarsat to give the Americas-focused Viasat global coverage. SpaceNews journalists considers these among the most important deals of 2023. We polled past winners of the SpaceNews Awards for their input on Deal of the Year and five other award categories.
We’ll reveal our final pick for Deal of the Year on Tuesday, Dec. 5, during the SpaceNews 2023 Icon Awards event at the InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf.
Tickets are on sale now. Early bird pricing ends Nov. 8.
Stay tuned as we spotlight the honorees for the other award categories in the days ahead!
SpaceNews 2023 Icon Awards — Deal of the Year honorees*
* Category winner to be announced Dec. 5
Viasat acquires Inmarsat
Viasat’s expansion beyond the North and South American broadband markets it has served from GEO for decades got a turbo boost from its acquisition of maritime-heavy Inmarsat and its fleet of 15 GEO satellites. Scale has its advantages in a consolidating market.
The combined Viasat-Inmarsat, with 60% more revenue than Viasat alone, is better positioned to absorb the loss of ViaSat-3 Americas to a crippling deployment failure.
Eutelsat acquires OneWeb
Eutelsat’s OneWeb merger has created the only global operator with wholly owned satellites across GEO and LEO, which the group says will be critical for meeting emerging connectivity needs.
U.K.-based OneWeb is also a timely shot in the arm for the French operator’s expansion out of a declining satellite TV market. To achieve their deal, they not only had to clear shareholder and regulatory hurdles, but also navigate the political issues surrounding the British government’s continuedstake in OneWeb.
Telesat awards Lightspeed contracts to MDA and SpaceX
Telesat finally has funds for a LEO broadband network after pivoting from Thales Alenia Space to smaller but equally capable satellites from MDA.
The Canadian operator booked SpaceX for 14 launches between mid-2026 and mid-2027 to fully deploy all 198 satellites Lightspeed needs to provide global coverage.
While Telesat had hoped to start expanding out of GEO years earlier, the company expects the delays will be a blessing in disguise for a constellation now set to be $2 billion cheaper with MDA.
L3 Harris acquires Aerojet Rocketdyne
The completion of L3Harris’ $4.7 billion deal this summer to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne capped a period of uncertainty for the storied rocket engine manufacturer. Lockheed Martin in 2020 sought to buy it for $4.4 billion. That acquisition was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission.
The combination strengthens L3Harris’ position in propulsion systems and the space market through expanded capabilities in technology for defense, civil and commercial applications. For Aerojet, being part of L3Harris provides greater financial scale and access to capital that can support and accelerate Aerojet’s R&D and product development efforts.
One of these honorees will be recognized as the Deal of the Year during the SpaceNews 2023 Icon Awards.
Visit www.spacenewsawards.com for event updates and to purchase tickets.