Thales Alenia Space expanding Spanish factory • Telesat completes $500 million debt refinancing
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Thales Alenia Space is expanding one of its facilities in Spain. The company said Oct. 16 it will add 600 square meters of clean room space at its Tres Cantos, Madrid, facility to support the integration of telecom, navigation, Earth observation and science spacecraft. Once completed in fall 2020, the facility will have 2,600 square meters of total clean room space. The new space will feature bridge cranes capable of lifting 12 tons each, for large mission integrations. Thales Alenia Space said it will integrate the telecom payloads for Spain’s two SpainSat Next Generation satellites in the new clean room. [Thales Alenia Space]
The BBC has renewed a contract with Malaysian satellite operator Measat to broadcast channels across Asia using its Measat-3 satellite. BBC will use the capacity through Globecast, a content distribution and media management company that will also provide ground segment and uplink services for the television station. Measat operates five satellites, and has a new satellite, Measat-3d, under construction by Airbus Defence and Space in anticipation of a 2021 launch. [Measat]
Telesat Canada used $550 million in new debt raised this fall to pay off an older debt that had a higher interest rate. The company said it paid off $500 million of senior notes with an 8.875% interest rate five years early. The new $550 million, also raised through senior notes, has a 6.5% interest rate and is not due until October 2027. The Bank of New York Mellon supported the refinancing as Telesat’s trustee. [Telesat]
Iridium joined a Series C investment round for Satelles, a startup providing encrypted position, navigation and timing, based on Iridium’s low-Earth-orbit satellites. C5 Capital, a London-based venture firm focused on cybersecurity, AI and cloud computing, led the $26 million round. Satelles has raised $39 million in total, and plans to use its new funding to grow its partner network, sales and marketing activities, and product development. Satelles provides positioning, navigation, and timing information, ensuring such services when GPS or other Global Navigation Satellite Systems are jammed, spoofed, or otherwise interfered with. [Satelles]
Satellite companies are slowly starting to embrace cloud computing services. Ground infrastructure companies who provide hardware and software for teleports said those facilities could be made a lot more efficient by relying on cloud servers to virtualize network functions, an effort being led by startups. Those companies, though, are divided over whether satellite companies should build their own data centers or rely on “public” servers like those of Microsoft, Amazon and Google. This year, Intelsat, SES, Inmarsat and Viasat all announced partnerships with Microsoft to connect remote customers directly to its Azure cloud network of fiber-linked data centers. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX is seeking permission to launch as many as 30,000 additional Starlink satellites. The FCC, on SpaceX’s behalf, submitted 20 filings to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits. SpaceX’s ITU filings contain details about frequency usage, proposed orbital altitudes and the number of satellites it desires, but not when it seeks to launch the satellites. ITU filings are an early step in deploying a satellite system, and are often made years before a company plans to build and launch spacecraft. In a statement, SpaceX said it “is taking steps to responsibly scale Starlink’s total network capacity and data density” to meet projected demand. [SpaceNews]
SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 launch will be the first to use the same first-stage booster for a fourth time. The launch, planned for late October or early November from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will carry an undisclosed number of Starlink satellites for SpaceX’s own broadband constellation. So far, no Falcon 9 booster has done more than three missions. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, said Oct. 6 at a National Academy of Engineering event that the company’s next launch would mark the fourth mission for a Falcon 9 booster. Each booster is designed to launch 10 times, he said. [Spaceflight Now]
The U.S. Army is interested in using commercial satellite megaconstellations to support its troops. Under the latest Army plan to equip forces with reliable and super fast communications, officials see an opportunity to buy commercial broadband services from constellations in low and medium orbits. The Army’s goal is to provide soldiers with multiple options to get bandwidth in the field, including both satellite-based and terrestrial communications. Megaconstellations could address challenges the Army currently has with satellite communications, including insufficient capacity and high latency. [SpaceNews]
Marlink, a maritime connectivity provider, has renewed a multiyear agreement with Intelsat for satellite capacity. The new agreement provides additional capacity using Intelsat’s traditional wide-beam and EpicNG high-throughput spot-beam satellites. Marlink said the capacity will provide connectivity to maritime customers in transportation, leisure, fishing and offshore drilling. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. [Intelsat]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.