ST Engineering completes Newtec purchase • Azerspace-2 reaches 80% fill rate
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Singapore Technologies Engineering said Oct. 1 it completed its acquisition of Belgian ground infrastructure provider Newtec. The company didn’t give a final price for the acquisition, which was announced in March for a consideration of 250 million euros ($281 million). Singapore Technologies Engineering is renaming Newtec as “ST Engineering iDirect (Europe) NV.” The new division, plus the recent acquisition of anti-jamming company Glowlink, will help “create a highly differentiated global satcom business group,” Singapore Technologies Engineering said. [ST Engineering]
Iridium Communications received a 5-year contract to upgrade a gateway station dedicated to making its satellite communications services available for the U.S. Defense Department. The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity Gateway Evolution Contract has a maximum value of $76 million. Iridium said the contract covers hardware and software upgrades tailored for warfighter requirements. The IDIQ follows an $8.57 million task order received in 2016 to ready the gateway for Iridium Next, the company’s second-generation constellation that is now operational in low Earth orbit. [Iridium]
Azerbaijani satellite operator Azercosmos says its newest satellite has generated $14.1 million in its first seven months of commercial operations. Azercosmos’ Azerspace-2, a condo-style satellite that shares a bus with Intelsat-38, launched on an Ariane 5 rocket in September 2018 and began commercial service in February. Some 80% of the satellite’s capacity is in use, with global satellite operators Intelsat and Eutelsat using the satellite. Azercosmos said more than 80 encrypted television channels broadcast through Azerspace-2 across Africa. The satellite, built by Maxar Technologies, has coverage of Europe, the Middle East, parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. [Azercosmos]
The German arm of space software company Scisys will continue developing a space debris database for a European Union program, the company said Oct. 2. Under a contract with the Germany space agency DLR, Scisys is tasked with building a space debris database for the European Union’s Space Surveillance and Tracking Project. Scisys said the contract, agreed to in August, has extension options until 2025. The goal of the database is to create a European catalogue of orbital data. [Scisys]
New FCC filings show Amazon is still in the early phases of its Project Kuiper broadband constellation. In the filings, the company said that its “constellation design and implementation plan are well-developed,” but has yet to finalize the design of the satellites or set a schedule for building and launching them. Among the design decisions Amazon has yet to make is what propulsion system it will use on the satellites to raise their orbits after launch and then deorbit them at the end of their lives. [GeekWire]
Russia plans to retire the Rockot small launch vehicle after a final launch next month. The Nov. 29 launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome will place three Gonets communications satellites into low Earth orbit, although officials said the launch could slip to late December. The Rockot is a converted SS-19 ICBM that will be retired as Russia shifts to other vehicles, like the Angara. [TASS]
A Russian streaming service is adding satellite broadcasting to its content distribution approach. Kartina TV, a Russian-language pay-TV streaming service focused on viewers in Europe and the U.S., will soon begin broadcasting on SES’s Astra-1N satellite at 19.2 degrees East. The direct-to-home satellite broadcasts are meant to reach viewers where terrestrial IP networks are limited or unavailable. Kartina plans to broadcast 30 to 40 standard-definition channels using high-efficiency video coding, a compression standard that lets broadcasters transmit more channels with less bandwidth. [SES]
Small launch vehicle developer Relativity Space has raised $140 million in a new funding round. Relativity said the Series C round was led by two new investors, Bond and Tribe Capital, with the participation of several other individuals as well as existing investors. The new funding will take the company through to commercial operations of its Terran 1 rocket, now scheduled to make its first flight in February 2021. Relativity is making extensive use of 3D-printing technologies to produce the rocket, and plans to use the funding to both expand its Los Angeles headquarters and manufacturing facility and establish a factory at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.