08 July 2016 Industry News

The Week in Space: Business Digest, July 1-8.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) announces three new associate members: Calspan Corporation, Firefly Space Systems, and TIP Technologies.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation was founded in 2006 and currently has over 70 members. CSF is one of the leading voices for the commercial spaceflight industry.
“The commercial spaceflight industry is developing and innovating at an ever-increasing pace,” said CSF president Eric Stallmer. “With the recent expansion of membership we have brought on board three different companies focusing on areas ranging from systems testing, small satellite launches, and quality assurance software. This diversity is a testament to the vast reach and influence of the rapidly growing commercial space sector.”

Calspan, a world-class independent engineering services and testing company has been supporting initiatives that drive global innovation for over 70 years. They have provided aerodynamic analysis of space access vehicles for several NASA vehicles. Calspan’s space vehicle expertise includes Stage Separation & Proximity Assessment Testing, Jet Effects Assessment, and Performance, Stability, and Control.

Firefly Space Systems (founded in 2014), is a rapidly growing Newspace company that is helping change the face of the global launch market by providing a low cost launch option for small satellite payloads. Currently under launch contract with NASA, Firefly is scheduled for its first orbital flight in the first quarter of 2018.

TIP Technologies was a pioneer and continues to be the recognized leader in quality assurance software. Since 1989 the company has been developing and marketing TIPQA™, an integrated suite of enterprise quality assurance applications. TIP Technologies focuses on serving the needs of companies in regulated discrete manufacturing industries.

SES S.A. offers to acquire remaining shares and warrants of O3b Networks.

SES S.A., a global satellite services provider, has announced that it is exercising its call option and has offered to acquire remaining shares and warrants of O3b Networks. The offer has been accepted by the other shareholders. Non-tendering warrant holders will be cashed out and the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of July, 2016.

The transaction, costing SES $730 million, will increase the company's ownership of O3b from 49.1% to 100%. Once it is completed, SES will consolidate O3b's net debt and refinance a large proportion of its most expensive debt facilities, thereby significantly reducing O3's average cost of debt. The transaction is expected to generate a return (pre-synergies) in excess of SES’s hurdle rate for infrastructure investments. In addition, SES expects to generate EUR 53 million of annual commercial, operational, product development and financial synergies in 2017, increasing to EUR 106 million annually by 2021. “Moving to 100% of O3b will be highly accretive for SES, both from a strategic and economic standpoint. In addition to exceeding SES’s investment hurdle rates, full consolidation accelerates the delivery of important transformational and combinational synergies that are only possible with 100% ownership", said Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES.

Padraig McCarthy, CFO of SES has commented on the transaction: “The acquisition of O3b – the fastest growing satellite network – significantly enhances SES’s long-term growth profile, with the constellation expected to generate annualised revenues of between USD 32 million and USD 36 million per satellite at steady-state. Looking forward, both SES and O3b will benefit from the strong synergies and strategic fit across both businesses.”

Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS infrared data made available for military and civilian use.

For the first time, infrared data from the Lockheed Martin-built (LMT) Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) will be made available for new military and civilian uses at the Air Force's recently opened data utilization lab in Boulder, Colorado.

Although SBIRS' main objective is strategic missile warning, the system can also support monitoring, observing and information gathering projects.

"SBIRS uses powerful overhead sensors that collect and transmit significant amounts of infrared data," said David Sheridan, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) systems mission area. "By giving researchers access to this data, our objective is for them to find new, innovative uses for improving situational awareness—whether it is for tactical military missions, natural disasters or even firefighting."

"In an effort to develop, test and transition new or enhanced capabilities, the data utilization lab will provide an opportunity for users, data consumers and third-party developers to access these sensor feeds—providing an open framework architecture to host new tools, algorithms and processing solutions," said Lt. Colonel Ross Johnston of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The data provided by the lab will not only be used by government and industry professionals, but facilitate academic research and collaboration in Earth monitoring fields, including those working on anticipating large-scale forest fires.

"The benefit of having public-private partnerships is that we can bring together different stakeholders, in addition to doing research, and understand how we can use data from space assets to solve societal issues," said Scott Palo, associate dean for research at the University of Colorado's College of Engineering and Applied Science. "We can also provide opportunities for students, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, to connect with industry and government and develop a broader vision that we can all build upon."

The Aerospace Corporation announces corporate changes in Systems Planning, Engineering and Quality and Program Assessments.

The Aerospace Corporation is a California nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has approximately 3,600 employees. It provides guidance and advice to military, civil and commercial customers to ensure the success of complex, technology-based programs. The Aerospace Corporation is headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., with multiple locations across the United States.

The corporation has announced the following executive staff changes:

- Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr. has assumed the position of senior vice president of Systems Planning, Engineering, and Quality, succeeding Rand Fisher who retired on July 1. Earlier this year, Bolton was elected senior vice president of Special Studies. He had previously retired from the Air Force after 37 years of service, after which he became the assistant administrator for NextGen at the Federal Aviation Administration. At the FAA, he led strategic planning for and modernization of the National Airspace System. Bolton led a federal workforce of more than 900 employees and managed a $1 billon annual budget.

- Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Howard J. “Mitch” Mitchell, vice president of Program Assessments completed his service as a corporate officer on July 1 in accordance with the policies and practices of the corporation. Mitchell will continue as an Aerospace general manager for program assessments.

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