Spire, Kleos Space partner on maritime tools • Brazilian court blocks SGDC-2 acquisition • Gilat revenues down but profits up
To receive FIRST UP Satcom, a weekly SpaceNews newsletter for satellite and telecom professionals, sign up here.
Spire and signal-mapping company Kleos Space have teamed up to develop maritime safety tools focused on detecting “dark vessels” from space. New products expected in the fourth quarter of this year will combine Spire’s ship-tracking data with radio-frequency reconnaissance data from Kleos Space. Spire said it will provide its own proprietary Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to Kleos providers when ship AIS signals are undetected. [Spire]
A Brazilian court has blocked a planned acquisition of a communications satellite. A federal audit court said the planned procurement of a second defense and strategic communications satellite by Visiona, a joint venture of Telebras and Embraer, had “many irregularities” in its technical and financial justification for the satellite. Visiona had planned to select a supplier for the satellite by the end of the month. [BNAmericas]
Satellite network and hardware provider Gilat reported lower revenues but an increased profit Aug. 6. The company counted $59.7 million in revenue for the quarter ended June 30, down from $66.5 million during the same quarter last year. Operating income, however, increased 17.9% to $4.9 million from $4.1 million. Gilat said it still expects to reach $275 million to $295 million in revenue for the year, with an operating income of between $23 million and $27 million. [Gilat]
Fleet operator Thaicom’s quarterly revenue decreased nearly 19 percent to 1.2 billion baht ($38.8 million). The Thai satellite operator said lower fleet utilization and a customer price reduction led to the revenue loss. Thaicom’s four conventional satellites had a fill rate of 53 percent for the quarter. Its high-throughput satellite IPstar was 24 percent in use, down from 31 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2019. Thaicom said its net loss for the quarter was 135 million baht ($4.4 million). [Via Satellite]
Eutelsat said a next-generation communications satellite will be delayed until the second half of 2020. The company had hoped to launch Eutelsat Quantum, a software-defined, reprogrammable satellite from Airbus Defence and Space and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., late this year, but manufacturing delays and launcher availability have pushed back its launch. The setback means Eutelsat, having just overcome a delay with a consumer broadband initiative in Africa, will have to defer a second growth effort, this one focused on government connectivity. [SpaceNews]
Energy sector connectivity provider RigNet reported a 4.9% quarterly revenue increase, reaching $60.3 million for the three months ending June 30. Net loss shrank from $12 million to $6.2 million quarter over quarter. RigNet paid $45 million to Inmarsat in June, plus another $5 million in July as part of a settlement for a disputed Global Xpress capacity contract. RigNet said it will pay another $800,000 this quarter. [RigNet]
Maritime connectivity provider KVH is still deciding what to do with leftover proceeds from the $90 million sale of its VideoTel business. The company has $65 million in cash remaining after using some of the money to pay down debt. KVH CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen said the company plans to spend $2 million to $3 million on further investments in its AgilePlans maritime connectivity program, a new Internet of Things platform called KVH Watch, and photonic chips for autonomous vehicles. KVH reported $39.2 million in revenue for the quarter ended June 30, up $600,000 from the same quarter last year. [KVH]
Russia launched a military communications satellite Monday evening. A Proton-M rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 5:56 p.m. Eastern carrying the Blagovest-14L satellite. The Proton’s upper stage released the satellite nine hours later. The satellite is the fourth in a series of geostationary orbit spacecraft providing communications for the Russian military. [NASASpaceFlight.com]
OneWeb founder Greg Wyler warned the smallsat industry to operate responsibly in orbit or face a regulatory overreaction. Wyler, giving the keynote at the Conference on Small Satellites Monday, contrasted OneWeb’s emphasis on building reliable satellites and avoiding the creation of orbital debris with unnamed companies that he fears may sacrifice reliability in a rush to get their satellites launched. He warned that if new constellations result in debris-creating collisions, “you’re going to see regulations and you’re going to see it fast, and it’s going to make no sense at all.” [SpaceNews]
General Dynamics is selling its satellite communications antenna business to another company. General Dynamics announced Monday that Communications & Power Industries will acquire its SATCOM Technologies unit for an undisclosed sum. SATCOM Technologies designs and manufactures satellite ground communications products, and provides systems engineering, project integration and installation services. General Dynamics said it was selling the unit to “better align its business efforts” that support Defense Department and other government customers. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.