WRC-19 begins • Hiber buys green thrusters • Ariane 6 facility inaugurated in Germany
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The 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference began this week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The satellite industry and the cellular industry are both hoping to gain new spectrum — cellular operators for 5G networks, and satellite operators for earth stations in motion (ESIMs) used to link aircraft, maritime vessels and land vehicles. Regulators at WRC-19 will debate several other topics, including deployment milestones for non-geosynchronous satellite constellations like OneWeb and SpaceX, spectrum for high-altitude platforms, and protection of environmental satellites. The conference, hosted by the International Telecommunication Union, runs until Nov. 22. [ITU]
Dutch smallsat IoT startup Hiber signed a contract with propulsion startup Dawn Aerospace to use green thruster systems on its third and fourth satellites. Hiber launched its first two satellites in late 2018. The next two satellites, scheduled to launch in early 2020, will use a 1-unit Attitude and Orbit Control System from Dawn Aerospace that runs on Nitrous Oxide and Propene. Dawn claims its chemical propulsion system has 1,000 times the thrust of competing electric propulsion systems. Maarten Engelen, Hiber’s chief technology officer, said the company concluded Dawn’s propulsion system was the only of its kind that could support Hiber’s cubesats while keeping them at a 3U size. [Dawn Aerospace]
ArianeGroup has inaugurated its new integration facility for rocket upper stages in Bremen, Germany, and is finalizing integration of two Ariane 6 upper stages there. Roughly 100 of the 550 people employed at ArianeGroup’s Bremen site are working in the new integration facility. Ariane 6 will use a re-ignitable upper stage engine called Vinci, designed to place multiple satellites into different orbits, including constellations. ArianeGroup Germany CEO Pierre Godart said the “qualifying phase” for Ariane 6’s first flight in the second half of 2020 is now underway. [ArianeGroup]
China Satcom selected Gilat Satellite Networks to upgrade its infrastructure with hardware using the DVB-S2X transmission protocol. Gilat said it will work with China Satcom to bolster the delivery of satellite communications services in aviation and maritime, as well as fixed and mobile land applications. China Satcom has the only available Ka-band satellite system, ChinaSat-16, approved for in-flight Wi-Fi in China. [Gilat]
EchoStar has acquired a Canadian IoT satellite company. EchoStar said it has purchased Helios Wire Corporation and its Australian subsidiaries. Helios Wire had been developing a satellite constellation to provide IoT services at S-band, with one satellite launched late last year. An EchoStar executive said the deal “advances our strategy and further lays the foundation for a global S-band solution for the future.” Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. [EchoStar]
Eutelsat has signed an agreement with Thales Alenia Space for a new communications satellite. Eutelsat-10B, slated for launch in 2022, will be an all-electric satellite with more capacity than Eutelsat-10A, the satellite it will replace. The satellite, based on the Spacebus NEO platform, will produce 14 kilowatts of power to support the Ku-band high-throughput payloads, plus traditional C- and Ku-band widebeam capacity. Eutelsat said multiple in-flight Wi-Fi providers, including Gogo, have committed to lease more than a third of the new high-throughput satellite capacity. [SpaceNews]
KVH has released a satellite terminal that enables boats to receive 4K Ultra-HD television out at sea. The company’s TracVision UHD7 uses a 60-centimeter antenna to access HD and Ultra-HD content from DirecTV. The terminal features multi-axis tracking to maintain satellite links while vessels move. [KVH]
SES said its revenues fell in the first three quarters as the year as new data services failed to make up for declining video services. The $1.591 billion in revenue SES reported was down 3.6% from the same period last year. TV broadcasting revenue dropped even more, down 8.1%. SES blamed the video decline on U.S. broadcasters dropping standard-definition channels, along with changes in how customers in general watch television. The company is emphasizing cloud services, including new ones for broadcast customers where they can use Microsoft Azure to transfer video files, prepare content for broadcast and other functions. [SpaceNews]
Brazilian satcom provider Arycom has partnered with Web Manuals, a company that provides digital documents for the aviation sector, to make digital aviation manuals available via satellite. The partnership helps expand access to aviation manuals across the Americas, according to the companies. [Arycom]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.