China Plans Global Satellite Communications Network

China plans to launch a test satellite for a global communications constellation by the end of this year.

The Hongyun project, launched by CASIC in September 2016, has the goal of building a space-based communications network of 156 small satellites in orbit about 1,000 kilometers above the Earth. It would become operational about 2022.

Researchers are designing the Hongyun satellite and will finish the design this year, Zhang said.

After the technology demonstration satellite, the academy will lift four Hongyun satellites by the end of 2020 to form a small network for the project’s trial run, according to Zhang. He said once the trial run proves successful, CASIC will start to launch the Hongyun satellites to establish a global constellation.

When the Hongyun project is complete, it will cover the whole world and offer round-the-clock communication services to users in polar regions, who now have difficulties accessing telecommunication and internet services, Zhang said.

Read the full story.

New Company Emerges in Satellite Internet Race

Another company has emerged that is aiming to provide satellite Internet to under served areas, Tech Crunch reports.

Launching from stealth today with a fresh $13.5 million investment led by Andreessen Horowitz is Astranis — the developer of a novel satellite technology that aims to transmit data down to specific terrestrial locations with each satellite it launches.

That’s a significant shift from the way companies like SpaceX and OneWeb are building their satellite networks. Both of those companies are launching satellites into low earth orbit — which means that their satellites orbit the earth every ninety minutes.

For those companies to provide the kind of uninterrupted connectivity that consumers demand, they’d need to have a network of hundreds — if not thousands — of satellites in place to have a fully operational network.

Astranis is planning to launch its satellites into geostationary orbit — farther from the earth and in a location that will remain fixed… which means its satellites can provide connectivity almost immediately after launch.

Read the full story.

OneWeb, Airbus, Delta, Sprint & Bharti Airtel Team Up for Seamless Air Alliance

BARCELONA, February 26, 2018 (OneWeb PR) –Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) announce the formation of the Seamless Air Alliance – which will usher in a new era of innovation for airlines on all routes. By empowering member mobile operators to extend their services into airline cabins, the Seamless Air Alliance will allow them to continuously provide their customers – via satellite technology – with the same high speed, low latency connectivity from ground, to air and back again. It will also significantly reduce costs for everyone involved while creating a smooth, positive user-experience.


Watch First Two SpaceX Starlink Satellites Deployed

These test satellites were secondary payloads on the Falcon 9 launch of the Paz satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this morning. Elon Musk’s company plans to provide global broadband services through two satellite constellations composed of 12,000 satellites.

SpaceX to Launch Global Satellite Broadband Test Spacecraft on Wednesday

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX is set to launch two spacecraft next week that will demonstration technologies for providing fast global broadband services through a constellation of 12,000 satellites.

Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b spacecraft will hitch a ride aboard a Falcon 9 booster whose primary payload is the Paz synthetic aperture radar satellite. The launch has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:17 a.m. PST ( 9:17 a.m. EST; 1417 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Backs SpaceX’s Satellite Internet Plan

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2018 (FCC PR) —Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today proposed that the agency approve an application by Space Exploration Holdings, doing business as SpaceX, to provide broadband services using satellite technologies in the United States and on a global basis. Chairman Pai issued the following statement:

“To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies. SpaceX’s application—along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems—involves one such innovation. Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach. And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available.

“Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans. If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.”


Over the past year, the FCC has approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to access the United States market to provide broadband services using satellite technology that holds promise to expand Internet access in remote and rural areas across the country. These approvals are the first of their kind for a new generation of large, non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service systems, and the Commission continues to process other, similar requests.

Secondary Payloads Increasingly Take Center Stage

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On most launches, the small secondary satellites that ride along with the primary payloads garner little attention.

That has begun to change in recent years as CubeSats have become increasingly capable. The importance of these small satellites could be seen in the recent launch of an Indian PSLV rocket, which carried a CartoSat Earth observation satellite and 30 secondary spacecraft from India, Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, UK and the United States.


SSTL Confirms the Successful Launch of CARBONITE-2 & Telesat LEO Phase 1 Satellite

PSLV-C40 booster lifts off (Credit: ISRO)

GUILDFORD, England (SSTL PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has confirmed the successful launch of CARBONITE-2, an Earth Observation technology demonstration mission owned and operated by SSTL, and of the Telesat LEO Phase 1 communications satellite, an important milestone in Telesat’s plans to deploy a global low earth orbit (LEO) constellation that will revolutionise broadband communications services around the world.

These two small SSTL satellites were launched into a 505 km sun-synchronous orbit on board the PSLV launch vehicle from the Satash Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on 12 January 2018 at UTC/GMT 03:59.


Telesat Begins Deploying Its Global Low Earth Orbit Constellation with Phase 1 Satellite Launch

OTTAWA, CANADA, January 12, 2018 (Telesat PR) – Telesat announced today the successful launch of its first LEO satellite, an important milestone in the company’s plans to deploy a global LEO constellation that will revolutionize broadband communications services around the world.

Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite was launched aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The spacecraft was built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) based in the U.K., a world leader in small satellites and part of the Airbus Defence and Space group.


SoftBank to Invest $500 Million More in OneWeb

Some good news for satellite Internet company OneWeb:

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. has agreed to invest roughly $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb Ltd., according to a person familiar with the details, boosting the U.S. startup’s plan to offer significantly faster internet connections world-wide than most traditional systems, either space-based or terrestrial.

The latest commitment would boost SoftBank’s total investment in the project to about $1.5 billion, even as Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder and executive chairman, disclosed over the weekend that his company already is designing and seeking suppliers for a more powerful new generation of satellites. He said those eventually are slated to deliver ultra-high-speed connectivity, including across rural or developing regions, approximately as fast as typical fiber optic networks.

The precise size and structure of SoftBank’s additional investment could change, said the person familiar with the details and others close to the talks. But Mr. Wyler and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, they said, agreed in principle on the cash infusion during recent discussions, with the caveat that SoftBank’s stake in OneWeb would remain less than 50%.

Work on OneWeb’s previously announced initial fleet of more than 700 small, low-altitude satellites is “generally on schedule” for launches beginning next year, starting to market service over Alaska in 2019 and expanding virtually around the globe by the end of 2020, according to Mr. Wyler. During a weekend interview, he also said deployment of roughly 900 second-generation, higher-orbiting satellites by the mid-2020s—intended to create the first such large-scale, hybrid constellation on orbit—is projected to increase speeds roughly fivefold to 2.5 gigabits per second.

Hughes Signs $190M Contract with OneWeb for Production of Ground Network System

GERMANTOWN, Md., November 7, 2017 (Hughes PR) —Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes), the global leader in broadband satellite solutions and services, today announced that it has signed a contract for $190M with OneWeb for the production of a ground network system, supporting OneWeb’s constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites in its mission to bring affordable broadband service to millions of households, schools and other end users around the world.

This contract builds on the original system development agreement between the companies signed in June 2015, bringing the total value of both to over $300M. It includes production of the gateway sites each with multiple tracking satellite access points to support operation and handoff of high-speed user traffic between satellites.


China Working on Reusable Space Plane, Low-Cost Launches & Satellite Constellation

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced last week that it plans to launch a reusable space plane capable of taking off and landing on a runway around the year 2020.

Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation. The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.


SpaceX Outlines Satellite Internet Plan

SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Credit: NASA Television)

Statement of
Patricia Cooper
Vice President, Satellite Government Affairs
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX)
Before the
Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology
United States Senate
October 25, 2017

Selected Excerpts

SpaceX’s consumer focus sets it apart from most other proposed NGSO system. SpaceX has designed its system with the primary purpose of providing broadband service directly to end-users, particularly individual households and small businesses. Meeting this distinct direct-to-end-user goal demands far more on-orbit capacity, which in turn drives the larger number of satellites in the design and the focus on spectrum re-use efficiency.

Initially, the SpaceX system will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km). This system will also require associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations, and end user earth stations.


OneWeb, Saudi Arabia Sign MOU on Satellite Internet

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (OneWeb PR) – In a ceremony witnessed by H.E the Minister Eng. Abdulla Al-Sawaha and Sir Richard Branson, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and OneWeb have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the development of solutions in 2020 which should help to connect 237,000 homes throughout the country bringing much needed affordable, high-speed, low latency broadband access to those living in rural and remote areas.

This MOU comes within the efforts of MCIT to extend all the Kingdom’s areas of high-speed internet and to enhance the infrastructure of communications and data networks, in line with the National Transformation Plan aiming to reach high-speed Internet for the vast majority of rural and remote areas by 2020.


Wyler: OneWeb to Launch First Satellites in May

Planned OneWeb production facility in Exploration Park, Fla. (Credit: OneWeb)

Testimony of Greg Wyler
Founder and Executive Chairman,
Worldu Satellites Limited (OneWeb)

Before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology
Oct. 25, 2017

Selected Excerpts

This is a great time to discuss our progress as we are investing over $4 billion to build the world’s first large scale satellite constellation, and will begin launching our fleet in the coming months.