Archive for July, 2009

Will Commercial Satellite Operators See the Military “Gravy Boat” Sunk?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

            How long will the military gravy boat continue to represent a lucrative market for the commercial satellite operators?
            Throughout this recession, the satellite industry has continued to be profitable.  Although many companies have cut consulting costs and used layoffs to keep costs down in the uncertain economy, long term contracts and renewals have kept the companies healthy.  A very lucrative market for the commercial satellite companies is represented by the defense and military requirements for commercial satellite capacity.
            Demand continues to be heavy for commercial capacity, and  is largely driven by flashpoints around the globe
[MilsatMagazine - July 2009] even though the availability of military satellite bandwidth is expanding.  The first Wideband Global Satcom was launched in 2007 and the second in early 2009.  
           
TacSat-3 was launched in May 2009, and features an onboard processor which can provide real-time data to the combatant commander in the field within 10 minutes of its collection
[SatNews - 06/25/2009].  The U.S. Air Force announced the entry into trial operations of the second Space Based Infrared System Highly Elliptical Orbit payload and associated ground system for use by the warfighter in June [SatNews - 06/25/2009].  G6 provides continental United States wide voice and data satellite communications to Global Medic medical companies for all the U.S. military services except the Coast Guard [DVIDS - 06/17/2009].  The U.S. Army completed successful testing of the first Advance Extremely High Frequency satellite communications production terminals from Raytheon, being supplied under a $97.,5 million contract to upgrade and increase the data rate of existing SMART-T systems four fold  [PRNewswire - 07/14/2009].
            Still, the commercial satellite companies benefit from demands for capacity that cannot be met by the military satellites.  Intelsat and SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES, the two largest, are just among many that contract large chunks of capacity to military needs, especially in the Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan, for example).  Iridium recently won a $22m contract to provide the Navy with communications services and develop new tactical communications system for the Marines
[Washington Business Journal - 06/05/2009] and shortly thereafter was awarded a phase II contract for continued development of the Distributed Tactical Communications System for the U.S. Navy [UPI - 06/10/2009].
             General Dynamics won a $119m U.S. Army WIN-T order for 293 satellite terminals and support services in June
[Satellite Today - 06/08/2009].  The company contracted with Citrix Systems Inc. to supply WANScaler units to help optimize satellite bandwidth for the U.S. Army and its WIN-T (Warfighter Information Network-Tactical) initiative [Military & Aerospace Electronics - 06/25/2009].
            TeleCommunications Systems announced the award of a $3.4m U.S. Army contract to provide additional Secret Internet Protocol Router and Non-secure Internet Protocol Router access point VSAT satellite systems in July
[TMCnet - 07/13/2009].
            Apptis won an Army communications upgrade contract in July worth more than $130m to provide management and integration services of more than 100 projects including strategic satellite systems
[WashingtonTechnology - 07/13/2009].  ARINC and partner Impeva Labs received a U.S. Army contract for additional test deployments of a mesh network satellite-based global asset visibility system [SatNews - 07/09/2009].
            The Department of Homeland Security Office of Detention and Removal selected Fleet Management Solutions Iridium-based vehicle tracking and mobile resource management systems in July for deployment in its effort to optimize efficiency
[SatNews - 07/23/2009].
            Cisco will send an internet router into space on a geostationary satellite as part of a U.S. Defense Department-led initiative called Internet Routers in Space (IRIS)
[PCWorld - 07/06/2009].
            The use of so much commercial satellite capacity becomes very expensive.  The large commercial satellites commonly used are not designed and purposed for the selective use of defense and military clients.  The agencies must search out capacity on satellites in neighborhoods of the orbital arc that can serve the regions where service is required, and then contract for the capacity at commercial rates or higher because of the premium satellite real estate represented by the large commercial satellites.
            Small satellites have been looked at for many years as possible alternatives to the large commercial satellites for special purposes, but have had the “reputation of being unobtainable and promising capabilities in conflict with the laws of physics or business.”  However, they are “increasingly being proposed as enablers of these new systems.”
[SatNews - 07/23/2009]   The 23rd Small Satellite conference will be held in Logan, Utah in August and will focus on expanding applications of small satellites and their developing technologies.
            A new company, U.S. Space LLC, has been formed by former SES Americom CEO Ed Horowitz and former International Launch Services CEO Mark Albrecht, along with former Pentagon brass, to build small commercial communication satellites targeted at military customers only.  
[reallyrocketscience - 07/16/2009]  [Wall Street Journal - 07/01/2009]  It will be very interesting to watch this company and see if it can be successful in making small satellites profitable for providing lower cost dedicated services to the defense and military establishments.
            Will the combination of increasing capacity on military satellites, and the promise of small commercial satellites dedicated to military and defense needs, signal a decline in the demand for traditional satellite operators’ satellite capacity by those agencies?  Is the military gravy boat in danger of sinking?


Satellite industry news headlines for week ending July 24, 2009

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

WBMSAT News Bits is a summary of the week’s headlines in the satellite industry,  in a quick-read format, with links to the sources.

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits for July 10, 2009

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Satellite Industry News Bits July 10, 2009

Telesat and APT satellite, Hong Kong, complete transaction transferring leasehold interests in Telstar 10 to APT, along with certain customer contracts.
[Trading Markets - 07/09/2009]

Iridium and Stratos supply satellite communications for “Around the Americas” environmental sailng expedition launched from Seattle.
[TMCnet - 07/09/2009]

STS-127 countdown continues for launch on Saturday, July 11 on mission to complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory.
[SatNews - 07/09/2009]

UltiSat completes and commissions a C-band teleport for AFCOMSAT, a leading Nigerian satellite services provider.
[SatNews - 07/09/2009]

ARINC and partner Impeva Labs receive U.S. Army contract for additional test deployments of mesh network satellite-based global asset visibility system.
[SatNews - 07/09/2009]

ViaSat signs contracts with pan-African satellite operator Rascom Star-Qaf for high-capacity infrastructure satellite communications between regional and national capitals in Africa.
[SatNews - 07/09/2009]

Internet and Satellite use by politicians in Thailand to widen debate, challenging traditional broadcast media; government may move to undercut these challenges.
[Voice of America - 07/08/2009]

Hughes subsidiary Helius wins award for distance learning technologies that support federal government and military.
[TMCnet - 07/08/2009]

Iridium and SeaMobile Europe partner to support UCAR Cap Odyssee challenge, involving three French women attempting to cross the North Atlantic on paddleboards.
[TMCnet - 07/08/2009]

Orbital Sciences selected by NASA to design, build, integrate, and test a new low-Earth orbit space science satellite to study X-ray polarization in space.
[SatNews - 07/08/2009]

Vizada launches ThurayIP broadband mobile satellite service.
[Satellite Today - 07/08/2009]

Galileo satellite constellation control center turned over to Telespazio in a loan for use agreement.
[SatNews - 07/08/2009]

Comtech makes Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) available for the CDM-625 advanced satellite modem when using the recently announced next generation VersaFEC forward error correction, delivering lower latency than ACM with DVB-S2.
[SatNews - 07/08/2009]

Intelsat wins exclusive satellite rights to Michael Jackson memorial service.
[Satellite Today - 07/08/2009]

Terrestar to launch hybrid satellite-cellular system using Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) integration with the newly launched TerreStar-1 hybrid satellite.
[Network World - 07/07/2009]

SkyVision purchases iDirect Services 15000 Universal Satellite Hub to launch an Evolution network covering 100 percent of Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia with a single C-band satellite beam.
[SatNews - 07/07/2009]

Sirius XM iPhone application reaches 1 million downloads in two weeks.
[Satellite Today - 07/07/2009]

Arabsat and Sudanese Radio & TV sign agreement to launch DTH platform in Khartoum.
[SatNews - 07/07/2009]

The head of Iran’s judiciary calls for prosecution of people working for “anti-establishment” satellite TV channels and websites.
[SatNews - 07/06/2009]

Brazil, hoping to enter circle of nations launching rockets, plans to expand Alcantara aerospace base in the north by building 12 more rocket launching pads; will stress advantage of closeness to equator and broadest launching angle in the world.
[Satnews - 07/06/2009]

Telespazio subsidiary Aurensis signs partnership agreement with Google to become partner for enterprise versions of Google Earth and Google Maps.
[Satellite Today - 07/06/2009]

Poland becomes Member State of EUMETSAT.
[SatNews - 07/06/2009]

Inidian Space Research Organisation works on geostationary satellite for Indian Meteorological Department to monitor climate change.
[SatNews - 07/06/2009]

Latitude Technologies to provide the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Air Wing Division fleet of aircraft with a suite of SATCOM hardware and related services.
[SatNews - 07/07/2009]

Cisco will send internet router into space on a geostationary satellite as part of a U.S. Defense Department-led initiative called Internet Routers in Space (IRIS).
[PCWorld - 07/06/2009]

ATCi announces availability of its Warrior satellite monitoring and surveillance system specifically adapted for law enforcement agencies.
[PRNewswire - 07/06/2009]

  Univision successful in getting cable and satellite TV operators to pay to carry its programming, critical to its survival in the present economy given its huge outstanding debt.
[LA Times - 07/06/2009]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services

WBMSAT News Bits 07/03/2009

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Satellite Industry headlines for the week ending July 3, 2009, in a quick read format, with links to the sources.