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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Meet Starlink — The Name of SpaceX’s Mega Satellite Internet Constellation

SpaceX has applied for a trademark for the term “Starlink” as the name of its mega-constellations of Internet satellites. Elon Musk’s company’s has proposed an initial constellation of 4,425 satellites and a second constellation of 7,518 spacecraft.

Here’s how the services are described in the application, which was filed on Aug. 21:

IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Satellite communication and transmission services; wireless broadband communication services; transmission of data, voice and video via satellite; interactive satellite communication services; delivery of messages by electronic transmission; providing telecommunications connections to the Internet; telecommunications gateway services; providing high-speed wireless internet access; providing multiple-user access to the internet, global computer networks, and electronic communications networks; providing access to global information networks; telecommunications services via satellite; providing a website featuring information in the field of satellite communications; providing a website featuring information in the field of internet access via satellite; providing access to electronic databases and online information for use in retrieving satellite data, recordings, and measurements; satellite photography services

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Research and development services in the field of satellite communications; consulting services in the field of satellite communications; engineering services in the field of satellite communications; scientific and technological services, namely, research, analysis, and monitoring of data captured via remote sensors and satellites; remote sensing services, namely, aerial surveying through the use of satellites

OneWeb Inaugurates Spacecraft Assembly Line

Airbus-built OneWeb satellite (Credit: Airbus)

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR)  – Today, OneWeb Satellites inaugurates its assembly line in Toulouse, the beating heart of Airbus’ manufacturing expertise, to begin end-to-end validation, testing, and integration of its first satellites set for launch in just over nine months.

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Intelsat-OneWeb Merger Collapses

Intelsat has announced that its planned merger with startup satellite Internet provider OneWeb has collapsed.

The complex deal put together by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp would have required holders of Intelsat’s $14 billion debt to accept discounts on what they are owed. The proposed debt swap found no takers prior to the May 31 deadline for accepting it. Intelsat and OneWeb had extended the deadline several times.

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SpaceX Outlines Plan to Launch 12,000 Satellites to Provide Global Broadband

The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s successful launch of the EchoStar XXIII spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center March 16 at 2 a.m. EDT. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX Vice President Patricia Cooper outlined the company’s plans to provide global broadband with 12,000 satellites to the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday.

The initial constellation would consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km. The satellites would provide broadband and other communications services in the Ka- and Ku-band spectrum.

“To implement the system, SpaceX will utilize the availability of significantly more powerful computing and software capabilities, which will enable SpaceX to allocate broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where it is most needed and directing energy away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems, either in space or on the ground,” Cooper said in her prepared testimony. [Prepared Statement — PDF]

“Because the satellites will beam directly to gateways or user terminals, the infrastructure needed on the ground—particularly in rural or remote areas—is substantially reduced, essentially addressing the “last mile” challenge and helping to close the digital divide,” she added. “In other words, the common challenges associated with siting, digging trenches, laying fiber, and dealing with property rights are materially alleviated through a space-based broadband network.”

The company plans to launch two test satellites at the end of this year and in early 2018. SpaceX would begin launching operational satellites beginning in 2019, with all 4,425 spacecraft being in orbit by 2024.

“For the end consumer, SpaceX user terminals—essentially, a relatively small flat panel, roughly the size of a laptop—will use similar phased array technologies to allow for highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites,” Cooper said in her testimony. “In space, the satellites will communicate with each other using optical inter-satellite links, in effect creating a “mesh network” flying overhead that will enable seamless network management and continuity of service.”

SpaceX has filed a separate application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a constellation of V-band 7,500 satellites that would operate at lower altitudes than the original constellation.

“In the future, these satellites would provide additional broadband capacity to the SpaceX system and further reduce latency where populations are heavily concentrated,” Cooper testified.

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Report: Apple Hires Google Satellite Execs, Eyes Boeing Broadband Constellation

Credit: The Boeing Company

Bloomberg has an intriguing report about Apple, Boeing and te emerging battle to provide global broadband services via constellations of satellites.

The iPhone maker has recruited a pair of top Google satellite executives for a new hardware team, according to people familiar with the matter. John Fenwick, who led Google’s spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, head of satellite engineering, left Alphabet Inc.’s Google for Apple in recent weeks, the people said. They report to Greg Duffy, co-founder of camera maker Dropcam, who joined Apple earlier this year, the people said. They asked not to be identified talking about Apple’s private plans. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, as did Google. Fenwick, Trela and Duffy didn’t respond to requests for comment….

In a regulatory filing last year, Boeing Co. detailed a plan to provide broadband access through more than 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit. The aerospace company has talked with Apple about the technology company being an investor-partner in the project, a person familiar with the situation said. It’s unclear if those talks will result in a deal….

Still, TMF’s Farrar said there’s no guarantee Apple will get involved in the Boeing project. The satellite industry is littered with bankruptcies and other failures. Satellite telephone company Iridium LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999, and Teledesic abandoned its “internet from the sky” plan more than a decade ago.

Indeed, Apple may have hired the Google executives for something other than satellite work. It’s already trying to use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans. And in 2015, it acquired Aether Industries LLC, which develops near-space technology such as high bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons.

Read the full story.

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OneWeb Breaks Ground on Satellite Factory at Kennedy

One Web Satellites Ground Breaking ceremony at Exploration Park. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The portfolio of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon include large-scale satellite manufacturing following Thursday’s groundbreaking for a 150,000-square foot spacecraft factory in the center’s Exploration Park.

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Google Patent for Satellite Constellation

Video Caption: A few weeks back, a news went viral that Google is quitting the satellite business. Well, I think this is total BS.

The truth is that Google has just quit the satellite imaging business and not the satellite communication business. These are two totally different technologies with totally different applications.

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SpaceX Wants to Launch 12,000 Satellites

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has filed a new application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approval to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites to provide communications in the little used V band.

The system is in addition to  another constellations of 4,425 satellites (plus orbital spares) SpaceX proposed in November that would operate in the Ku and Ka bands. In total, the two constellations would have 11,943 spacecraft plus spares.

“When combined into a single, coordinated system, these ‘LEO’ and ‘VLEO’ constellations will enable SpaceX to provide robust broadband services on a full and continuous global basis,” SpaceX said in its application.

Competitor OneWeb has submitted a new application that would add an additional 2,000 satellites capable of operating in the V-band to its planned constellation of 720 satellites.

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Intelsat, OneWeb Announce Conditional Combination Agreement

Luxembourg, Jersey, and Tokyo, Japan, February 28, 2017 (Intelsat PR) — Intelsat (NYSE: I) and OneWeb today announced that they have entered into a definitive combination agreement pursuant to which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction. Intelsat and SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) also entered into a definitive share purchase agreement pursuant to which SoftBank will invest $1.7 billion in newly issued common and preferred shares of the combined company. Both the merger and the SoftBank investment are subject to, among other conditions, successful completion of debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders as well as receipt of certain regulatory approvals.

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