Despite all the investment in low Earth orbit broadband megaconstellations, operators of geostationary satellites argue they can offer more cost-effective services.
Beyond the technical challenges of combining GEO satellites with constellations is figuring out how to work with those constellations — and if those constellations want to work with them.
Maxar announces GEO order, property sale and debt refinancing, sizes WorldView Legion at six satellites
Maxar Technologies on Nov. 4 said an undisclosed customer has agreed to buy a geostationary communications satellite, providing what Maxar offered as proof that retaining and resizing Space Systems Loral was a worthwhile decision.
Potential customers include partner countries of the U.S. government's WGS constellation.
Commercial orders of geostationary communications satellites have reached double-digits for the first time since 2016, but a return to former buying rates remains unlikely, experts say.
Saturn Satellite Networks will build satellites ranging from 600 kilograms to 1,700 kilograms, and already has a customer order, Tom Choi, Saturn’s executive chairman, told SpaceNews.
Last year’s poor harvest of five commercial orders for large geostationary communications satellites proved even worse than 2017’s surprise low of just seven orders.
Maxar Technologies executives said selling the company’s struggling geostationary satellite manufacturing business is now the most likely path it will take to break free from a business that is operating at a loss.
Satellite operators had long sought less expensive launch as one way of reducing the overall cost of deploying new satellites. They’ve achieved that with the rise of SpaceX and the competitive pressures it has placed on other companies who have been forced to adapt or else.
As satellite manufacturers grapple with what increasingly looks like a permanent decline in the number of commercial geostationary communications satellites purchased worldwide, one offered hope that a partial rebound will ensue in the coming years.
Satellite manufacturers say they are trying to protect their component suppliers from the drought of commercial telecom spacecraft that threatens to put such companies out of business.
Suppliers of solar panels and related equipment for the space industry are pivoting to serve customers planing satellites for low and medium Earth orbits as the slow down in geostationary satellite orders persists.