Amazon Constellation Sends Number of Planned Communications Satellites Soaring Above 20,000

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.

Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.

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OneWeb to Launch Satellites on Ariane 6, Options 2 Additional Launches

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb is the developer of a new global, high-speed, low latency satellite-based network designed to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges worldwide. Ariane 6 will be available to OneWeb from the second half of 2020 to provide launch capacity that supports the full deployment and replenishment of the OneWeb constellation.

The launch service agreement specifies the use of the qualification launch of the Ariane 62 version, scheduled for the second half of 2020; the two Ariane 6 options (either in its 62 version, accommodating up to 36 OneWeb satellites, or in the 64 version, up to 78 OneWeb satellites) will be utilized starting in 2023.

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OneWeb Secures $1.25 Billion in New Funding After Successful Launch

  • New funding to start mass production of satellites
  • Combined with its successful first launch of satellites, OneWeb gains clear first mover advantage
  • New fundraising demonstrates strong investor support for OneWeb

March 18, 2019 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, announces it has secured its largest fundraising round to date with the successful raise of $1.25 billion in new capital. This brings the total funds raised to $3.4 billion. This round was led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and the Government of Rwanda.

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OneWeb Announces First Two Client Agreements – Start of Commercial Network Commercialisation

  • OneWeb signs major agreement with Talia to deliver broadband connectivity to Africa and the Middle East
  • First client signing with Intermatica for telecommunications services in Europe
  • Signing ceremonies with Talia and Intermatica take place at #MWC19

McLean, Va., 27 February, 2019 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the global satellite-powered communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, announces during #MWC19 that it has secured its first customer contracts to deliver its high speed, low latency, global communications services.

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Arianespace Orbits First Six OneWeb Satellites on Latest Soyuz Success

Soyuz ascends from the Spaceport in French Guiana on Arianespace’s second mission of 2019, carrying the first six satellites for OneWeb. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace played a significant role in improving global connectivity with today’s Soyuz launch that deployed the initial six satellites in OneWeb’s constellation – which will provide affordable high-speed internet access for users around the world.

The cluster of spacecraft – produced by the OneWeb Satellites joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus – was successfully deployed into a circular low Earth orbit on Arianespace’s first Soyuz mission of 2019 (and the launch services company’s second mission overall this year).

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OneWeb Launches First 6 Satellites in Global Communications Constellation

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)
  • Launch of first six satellites is the first step on the path to delivering true global connectivity and bridging the digital divide
  • Launch signals the beginning of the largest satellite launch campaign in history and the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialization of OneWeb

London, UK, February 28, 2019 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, today announced the successful launch of its first six broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

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UK Space Agency Provides $23.5 Million to OneWeb for Global Communications Constellation

LONDON (UKSA PR) — Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer today, after £18 million [$23.5 million] of UK Space Agency funding was awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency, to aid the development of its next generation satellite constellation.

A global communications network in space, the system will be comprised of approximately 650 satellites initially and scale to more than 900 satellites over time.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore is visiting the European Space Agency in the Netherlands today. He will say:

Fast internet access is something many people take for granted but in many areas of the world connectivity is still hit and miss.

This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, putting the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.

The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.

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Blue Origin’s Powerful New Glenn Rocket to Launch Telesat’s Advanced Global LEO Satellite Constellation

Credit: Telesat

OTTAWA, Canada, January 31, 2019 (Telesat PR) – Telesat and Blue Origin have signed a multi-launch agreement that paves the way for the powerful New Glenn rocket to play a key role in Telesat’s deployment of its global LEO satellite constellation that will deliver fiber-like broadband services anywhere on Earth. Telesat’s LEO program will gain significant cost savings and other advantages by launching with Blue Origin’s heavy-lift New Glenn.

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Thales Alenia Space, Maxar Consortium Achieve Major Milestone in Design Phase of Telesat’s LEO Satellite Constellation

CANNES, France and WESTMINSTER, CO, Jan. 24, 2019 Thales Alenia Space/Maxar PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR), have completed an important milestone for the Telesat LEO constellation. The success of the consortium’s System Requirements Review (SRR) demonstrates increasing momentum for Telesat’s global communications system design and was highlighted by three satellite industry leaders agreeing on key innovations that will enable Telesat LEO to deliver breakthrough performance and affordability.

As previously announced, Telesat selected the consortium of Thales Alenia Space and Maxar Technologies, the owner of SSL and MDA, as one of two contractors for its LEO system design phase. The consortium, led by Thales Alenia Space, is designing an end-to-end communications system, including satellites, landing stations, user terminals, operations centers, and ground network.

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First OneWeb Satellites Arrive in Kourou Ahead of Launch

TOULOUSE, France, Jan. 22, 2019 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to provide internet to everyone, everywhere through a global satellite constellation, announced that its first satellites have successfully arrived in Kourou, French Guiana as the company prepares for its first launch on February 19th.

This achievement demonstrates the hard work and commitment of industry partners as OneWeb continues to make progress towards building the world’s first global satellite communications network in space.

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Iridium Certus Goes Live; World’s First Truly Global Broadband Service

Deployed teams, assets, autonomous vehicles, and ships can now activate this state-of-the-art connectivity platform

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 16, 2019 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) announced today the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, the first new capability activated from the company’s $3 billion Iridium® NEXT satellite replacement program.  Iridium Certus is a unique platform designed for the development of specialty applications and is the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access.  The service enables mobile office functionality for deployed teams and two-way remote communication for assets, autonomous vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships at sea.

This also includes safety-of-life services, where Iridium Certus is uniquely suited for the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of cellular coverage, including first responders and search and rescue organizations.  This announcement marks the end of an extensive global testing phase, including beta trials with live customers; the initial service is targeted at maritime and terrestrial applications, with Iridium Certus aviation solutions expected later in 2019, once certified.

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China Launches for 39th Time

China conducted its 39th launch of the year on Saturday with a successful flight from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

A Long March 2D rocket lifted off with the Hongyan-1 satellite aboard. It is the first spacecraft of a planned 300+ satellite constellation designed to provide global Internet service in the L- and Ka- bands.

The constellation is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The booster also launched six Yunhai-2 satellites that will be used to study the atmosphere.

The launch came less than a week after the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corpopration (CASIC) launched the first Hongyun-1 satellite aboard a Long March 11 booster. Hongyun-1 is the first of a planned 156-satellite constellation designed to provide global communications beginning around 2022.

China’s 39 launches was the highest number ever for the nation. The country suffered one failure when the maiden launch of Zhuque-1 booster — developed by private startup Landspace — suffered a failure of its third stage.

The United States came in second place with 34 launches in 2018.

SpaceX Receives $28.7 Million USAF Contract for Starlink Constellation

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX a contract worth $28.7 million for research work on the company’s Starlink satellite constellation.

“This agreement allows for experimentation in the areas of establishing connectivity, operational experimentation, and special purpose experimentation. Experimentation will include connectivity demonstrations to Air Force ground sites and aircraft for experimental purposes,” the contract award states.

“For the proposed Phase 2, the awardee proposes to perform experiments in two other key areas: early versions of a commercial space-to-space data relay service and mobile connectivity directly from space to aircraft,” the award added.

Starlink is designed to provide global communications services using an initial constellation of more than 4,000 satellites. When fully built out, the system will include nearly 12,000 spacecraft.

Report: SpaceX Set to Raise $500 Million for Starlink Constellation

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

The Wall Street Journal reports that SpaceX is set to raise $500 million at a $30.5 billion valuation to kickstart its Starlink satellite Internet program.

The Hawthorne, Calif., company, known as SpaceX, is raising the capital from existing shareholders and new investor Baillie Gifford & Co., one of the people said. The Scottish money-management firm is one of the largest investors in another Musk-led company, Tesla Inc., with about a 7.6% stake in the electric-car maker, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

SpaceX and the investors have agreed on the financing terms, but the money hasn’t been sent to the company yet, this person said. SpaceX could announce the deal by year-end.

Including the current round, SpaceX has raised about $2.5 billion of equity funding, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Last month it raised $250 million via its first high-yield loan sale….

SpaceX ultimately could require more than $10 billion in capital to reach its projected 11,000 satellite constellation, according to some industry estimates, while developing its heavy-lift rocket and capsule is anticipated to cost many more billions of dollars.

Yahsat & Hughes Launch Joint Venture to Deliver Satellite Broadband Connectivity Across Africa, Middle East & Southwest Asia

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 16, 2018 (Hughes Network Systems PR) — Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), a leading global satellite operator based in the United Arab Emirates and wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), and Hughes Network Systems (HUGHES), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (EchoStar) (NASDAQ: SATS), a premier global provider of satellite communication solutions, today announced the commencement of a joint venture to provide commercial satellite services across Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia.

The agreement to form the joint venture was announced in September 2018, during the World Satellite Business Week Conference held in Paris, and was subject to regulatory and other approvals that have now been obtained. The newly formed company is bringing services to market as “YahClick, powered by Hughes,” and is now operational.

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