The European Space Agency signed a 300-million-euro ($352 million) contract with Airbus Defence and Space on Sept. 21 to develop an ice-monitoring satellite for European Union’s Earth-observing Copernicus program.
The European Space Agency has awarded study contracts to Airbus and Eutelsat consortia to identify what solutions and “disruptive technologies” the agency should focus on.
Intelsat has agreed to help market half the capacity on an upcoming Eutelsat satellite designed mainly for government customers, the companies announced July 30.
Britain’s military on July 19 agreed to fully fund a gap-filler Skynet satellite it sole-sourced from Airbus Defence and Space three years ago, signing a 500-million-pound ($628.5 million) contract that covers the satellite’s manufacture and launch, as well as ground segment upgrades.
The British government and Indian mobile network operator Bharti Global placed a winning bid to acquire OneWeb, a broadband megaconstellation startup that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after running out of funding, OneWeb said July 3.
With OneWeb’s drive to cover the globe with hundreds of mass-produced satellites halted by last month’s Chapter 11 filing, some of the bankrupt megaconstellation’s component suppliers are looking to repurpose the investments they made in expanded manufacturing capabilities.
Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said Airbus, the satellite’s manufacturer, asked to switch from Vega to Soyuz to avoid further delays getting Falcon Eye 2 into orbit.
Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo said during a Nov. 7 earnings call, said Vega is on track for a return to flight by March, though what payload will launch on the mission is still to be determined.
As operators of Earth observation satellites prepare to update their fleets, with an emphasis on both improved resolution and revisit time, they disagree on how much demand there is for existing and new data.
Airbus and the French Space Agency CNES have agreed to cofinance a constellation of four Earth observation satellites while leaving the door open for Airbus to finance additional satellites with other partners.
Regardless of whether the Airbus-OneWeb joint venture gearing up to crank out dozens of satellites a month ultimately builds just 648 satellites or closer to the 900 originally envisioned, OneWeb’s constellation is the first such project large enough to truly incorporate aviation-style mass production procedures for spacecraft.