POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

The coming “revolution” in the satellite sector



Former US speaker of the house and 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, representatives from Nasa and other space decision-makers were at SES on Wednesday for meetings and a tour of the Château de Betzdorf premises. 

Speaking on his visit, Kevin O’Connell (US Department of Commerce) told Delano, “We’re seeing an incredible amount of innovative activities, everything from things going on here at SES to the new space startups we’ve had the pleasure of meeting with over the last couple of days.” He added that part of the discussions at SES included issues such as “commercial best practices on a voluntary basis” as a way to tackle safe operations for the space industry.

Nasa’s acting administrator for international and interagency relations, Mike Gold, added that being at SES offered them a chance to talk about the future of satellites, including the possibility of them being built in space. In the shorter-term future, as SES announced Thursday, its affiliate SES Government Solutions and Isotropic Systems had entered into an two-phased antenna evaluation contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory. The contract is an extension of the partnership which sees the former two entities working together ”to produce scalable, cost-effective terminals capable of providing government, military, and commercial access to the existing O3b constellation and the groundbreaking O3b mPOWER system [a satellite-based comms system] set to launch late next year," per the statement.

SES CEO Steve Collar was delighted with the visit from Gingrich and the US delegation. "Doing the extraordinary in space is something that unites Luxembourg and the US," he said. "Holding engaging discussions with like-minded space visionaries on how we continue to develop and leverage space technology to make a difference to the lives of millions was an inspiring experience."

On Tuesday  SES also announced it had signed with Microsoft to become its medium earth orbit Azure Orbital which not only allows SES to advance its cloud-first startegy but will also see the two giants invest in ground stations, which SES will manage for the MEO segment in Phoenix, Arizona, and the earth observation segment in Quincy, Washington. 

Prior to their tour of the SES headquarters, the delegation sat down for a space chat with Delano journalists.