Proposed spaceport gives Italy’s commercial space sector a boost

Italy’s proposed Grottaglie spaceport is attracting new deals with private space firms that could spur more activity in the country’s budding commercial space sector. Sitael, a small satellite manufacturer and Italy’s largest private space company, recently announced an agreement with Virgin Orbit for “extensive collaboration” on future launches and “investment into future launch system evolution.” “The demand for small satellites grows higher every day and the ability to launch on

LEO broadband gains telecom backers amid fears of disruption

Incumbent telecom satellite operators are warming to the idea of low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations delivering broadband to terrestrial customers. Two of the world’s largest satellite telecom operators have now backed LeoSat’s LEO satellite broadband initiative. On 10 July, LeoSat gained a key second investor in the midst of its Series A funding round for its proposed high throughput satellite constellation. Hispasat has joined Sky Perfect’s JSAT – representing two

The world’s first privately-funded lunar lander to launch by end of 2018

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced the country’s first uncrewed lunar mission will launch from Cape Canaveral in December 2018. SpaceIL is an Israeli-based nonprofit start-up and alum of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. If successful, the start-up will become the first participant in the Google Lunar XPRIZE to reach the Moon. It will also be the world’s first privately-funded lunar mission to reach the Moon. SpaceIL, which was founded

Operators see software-defined satellite future approaching

Flexible, re-configurable satellites have been seen as an elusive holy grail in the industry for years now, but the technology seems to be gaining traction finally among satellite manufacturers and operators for commercial use cases. “If you look at the world today, what’s making the world go round is software,” said Jean-Luc Froeliger, Intelsat VP of satellite operations and engineering, speaking at the recent Space Tech Expo. “In the future,

Asteroid Institute taps York Space for low-cost asteroid tracking

The B612 Foundation’s Asteroid Institute has partnered with York Space Systems for the possible development of a low-cost, space-based asteroid tracking system. The B612 Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to asteroid-impact risk mitigation. Last year, the foundation launched the Asteroid Institute, a scientific and technical body focused on collaboration with major universities and research centers around the globe in asteroid tracking. The Asteroid Institute is tasked with creating a “dynamic

Success of commercial platforms unlikely without government help

The findings of the recent report indicate it will be very unlikely that a commercial space station will succeed without some level of on-going government support. In 2017, NASA commissioned a study from the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), under the direction of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, about the feasibility of a commercial LEO platform. Portions of the report were recently made public as part of

NanoRacks courting Asian, European customers with business development partnership

NanoRacks is pursuing more international commercial and government customers for its space station offerings, amid a global explosion in new commercial space ventures and activities. The company is opening up its first office outside the U.S. with the hopes that an expanded presence in Europe will help it tap into a growing customer base across Europe and Asia. “The exploration industry is growing at an extraordinary pace,” Jeff Manber, CEO

LEO HTS operators will struggle with ‘feasible business models’

A new report out from Northern Sky Research (NSR) predicts a “mixed outcome” for large high-throughput satellite (HTS) constellations. As we have previously reported, there are five companies now planning to launch LEO satellite mega-constellations, with the hopes of providing high speed, low latency broadband around the globe. These providers have drawn a “compelling level of optimism,” NSR said, pointing to the large amounts of funding being poured into these

Governments step up funding for private space startups

Last year proved to be a seminal year for the commercial space industry, and there’s no signs of things cooling down in 2018.  So far, the explosion of investment made in private space companies has been largely focused on launch vehicles. According to a Space Angels’ report, 72% of capital invested in space went to launch capabilities in 2017. But in 2018, we’re seeing more funding and support pop up

Virgin Orbit considers satellite maintenance, orbital debris services

Virgin Orbit, the small satellite launch arm of Richard Branson’s growing space empire, is planning to offer expanded services for the small satellite launch market. Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart has said the company is looking at market opportunities such as satellite maintenance and orbital debris removal for its clients. The pool of small satellite launch vehicles has grown significantly over the past few years – though many of them