A Higher Calling
Eight More For Galileo
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani has announced in London that the consortium led by OHB System AG and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) will build a further eight satellites for the European Unions Galileo satellite navigation program under the supervision of the European Space Agency.
The new contract will see SSTL continuing its role as payload prime, assembling, integrating and testing the navigation payloads in the U.K., while OHB System, as the prime contractor, builds the eight satellite platforms and executes the final integration of all the satellites in Germany.
The SSTL-OHB partnership is already building 14 satellites for the Galileo program and will draw on its heritage and experience to produce the additional satellites to demanding schedules.
Matt Perkins, SSTL Group CEO, said, SSTL has played a key role in the development of the Galileo programme for nine years and we have the commitment, experience and track record to deliver this substantial contract. We are delighted to have been selected with our partner, OHB, to continue to play our part in building Europes operational navigation system.
SSTL is assembling the Galileo program payloads at its recently opened purpose-built Kepler technical facility in Guildford, U.K. Under the contract, SSTL is fully responsible for the construction and test of the navigation payloads. SSTL will manufacture the electrical harnesses and the electronics to interface the navigation payload with the satellite platform. The remaining payload equipment will be externally procured by SSTL from European and other suppliers. SSTLs payload solution is based on European-sourced atomic clocks, navigation signal generators, high power travelling wave tube amplifiers and antennas and will provide all of Galileos services.
Galileo is Europes own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing real-time positioning, navigation and timing services with unrivalled accuracy and integrity. It will be interoperable with the American GPS system and Russias GLONASS system.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo program is managed and fully funded by the European Union. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
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Satellite tracking, fleet management, and automated flight following solutions provider Blue Sky Network has been selected by Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IRDM) as a location-based service (LBS) Premium Portal Provider of the new Iridium Extreme satellite phone.
This new satellite phone is the smallest, lightest, and most rugged handset on the market, with the ability to precisely track users everywhere on the surface of the planet through the worlds furthest-reaching communications network. The Iridium Extreme seamlessly integrates with Blue Sky Networks robust SkyRouter web portal, which provides real time tracking and two-way messaging for mobile users.
With the Iridium Extreme handset, Blue Sky Network is providing users with the only pole-to-pole satellite phone capability combined with real time GPS tracking and emergency services. Blue Sky Network will also offer the Iridium AxcessPoint, which, when attached to the Iridium Extreme handset, provides a global Wi-Fi hotspot for devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, connecting customers in ways never before possible.
In concert with the SkyRouter web portal, Blue Sky Networks offering of this handset will deliver to customers anywhere in the world one, in-hand solution for voice, data GPS, SOS, tracking and SMS. SkyRouter provides 99.999 per cent reliability and when coupled with a handset that is made to stay functional through the most hazardous of conditions. SkyRouter also ensures complete security.
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Bundle Breaks The Century Mark
Vizada, now fully part of Astrium Services, has just announced its one hundredth contract for Global Maritime Broadband Bundles, which seamlessly integrate Ku-band VSAT, mobile satellite services (MSS) and Vizadas proprietary maritime communications platform, Vizada XChange.
Vizada was the first provider to offer all-in-one combined connectivity packages to the maritime community. Since launching the bundles in June 2011, more than 100 contracts have been signed, including with large shipping companies such as Scorpio Ship Management. Thanks to this offering, Vizada guarantees the best broadband options and most extensive coverage.
The number of contracts signed and the positive customer response proves Vizadas top-position in the market for airtime combination packages across multiple satellite services. The bundles offer a great variety of choice to shipping companies: a combination of VSAT, MSS hardware and airtime can be chosen based on their specific needs. Upgrades to a plan with more bandwidth or to a next generation satellite service are possible during or after contract termination.
Vizadas Bundles are designed to fit the needs of clients who are looking for unlimited global coverage and cannot risk lower throughput or limited broadband capabilities. The addition of value-added services, such as Vizadas proprietary Vizada XChange platform guarantees a seamless user experience onboard, regardless of the connectivity service chosen.
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No Sky View? No Big Deal
Gilat Satcom has announced the Company has released to market SuricatePRO.
This is a new communication solution that provides people in underground and other closed facilities the ability to communicate over Iridium satellite phones. Providing coverage extension for these devices, SuricatePRO extends telephony throughout the facility without loss of signal quality. The product is the perfect solution for using Iridium devices without sky view. Satphone users in mines, secure military installations, underground facilities and remote locations without sky view can quickly establish a SuricatePRO communication link that enables seamless communication with the Iridium satellite constellation.
Gilat Satcoms Mobile Satellite Director, Ami Schneider, said, With SuricatePRO, we deliver telephone communication to formerly impossible-to-reach locations and secure facilities. Now, after only a very simple installation of small, lightweight equipment, Iridium subscribers can gain reliable access to the Iridium network.
SuricatePRO takes advantage of Foxcoms RF-over-fiber technology. To enjoy the benefits of SuricatePRO, customers need only to install outdoor and indoor units connected via fiber (up to 3 km). Immediately, Iridium satphone users in the room can access the Iridium constellation as if they had clear sky view.
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Real-Time SATCOM Networks Monitoring
RT Logic, a Kratos company, has introduced a SATCOM Security Event Information Management (SEIM) product developed for the mission risks posed by the growth of end-to-end IP satellite communications.
The product, which monitors SATCOM networks, delivers real-time prioritized security and mission assurance alerts, alarms, compliance violations,
and network situational awareness. The appliance delivers a complete SEIM solution for the SATCOM environment, offering cyber security and mission assurance situational awareness and incident response. Its available in all-in-one and high-availability configurations, that scale to the mission needs of space and aerospace organizations of any size.
RT Logic, which supports the missions of nearly every U.S. space program, is addressing the changing threat landscape by developing a full cyber security product line. The solutions provide real-time cyber protection for new and existing space missions, and can retrofit existing critical national missions with no modifications to hardware, APIs, or Mission Software. The products are based on proven technologies with a TRL-9 heritage.
The products are based on proven technologies with a TRL-9 heritage. Solutions are available as individual products, integrated product suites, or enterprise security and mission assurance architectures. For more information, please visit: http://www.rtlogic.com/cyber
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Proton Sends SES-4 To Its Slot
International Launch Services (ILS) has successfully carried the SES-4 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit on an ILS Proton for SES.
This was the 20th SES satellite launched on ILS Proton and the 70th ILS Proton launch overall. The ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the Cosmodrome on February 14th). After a 9 hour, 12-minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the SES-4 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit.
This was the 373rd launch for Proton since its inaugural flight in 1965. The Proton Breeze M launch vehicle was developed and built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, the majority shareholder in ILS SES-4 is the largest satellite in SESs fleet, weighing 6.18 metric tons to be located at 338 degrees East; the largest neighborhood in the Atlantic. Built on the flight-proven Space Systems/Loral 1300 platform, SES-4 is a hybrid satellite featuring 52 high powered C-band coverage and incremental global capacity for video distribution, government and VSAT services. The satellites 72 Ku-band payload will provide enhanced capacity across three continents, with coverage in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Western Africa and Latin America.
ILS President, Frank McKenna, said, It is always thrilling to achieve milestones in our business but even more so when it is with a longtime customer, such as SES. With the ILS Proton launch of SES-4 this marks our 20th SES satellite launched on ILS Proton and the 50th satellite in the SES fleet. We are honored to be entrusted with launching the powerful SES-4 satellite and look forward to performing on all of our upcoming ILS Proton missions for SES.
Once again, ILS Proton has come through for SES, enabling the expansion of our business into emerging markets with the launch of SES-4. This is the 50th satellite in SESs fleet and the third launch attempt by the powerful Proton launch vehicle proved to be a total success. We are thankful for the hard work and diligence of the collective teams of ILS, Khrunichev, SES and Space Systems/Loral on this mission for this successful launch, said SES President and CEO, Romain Bausch.
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The Ka- Revolution
In 1999, Irving Goldstein wrote in The Future of the Electronic Marketplace that the first global broadband Ka-band systems are not expected to be operational until 2001 or 2002. It seems that Ka- has been the future for a long time. The article envisioned Ka-band satellites to be conceptually similar to the flying car imagery of the 1950s, a mind-blowing change in the technology which would literally transform the game.
Similar to the winged-machine visions from the past, there didnt appear to be any serious progress materializing in the high-frequency band of Ka-. A few years ago, however, Telesat, Wildblue and Spaceway in North America began offering Ka- services for residential customers, but there had been little deployable advancement in the commercial sectoruntil now.
The revolution has really begun this decade, starting with KA-SATs launch in December 2010a single satellite with 38 times the capacity of a standard Ku-band satellite. In October 2011, ViaSat-1 was launched with 140Gbps of data capacity, more than all the satellites covering North America combined. ViaSat-1 in North America, like KA-SAT in Europe, is capable of two-way communications with small dish antennas at higher speeds and a lower cost-per-bit than any satellite before. With the upcoming launches of Yahsat 1-B in April for the MENA region, and several other Ka-birds expected in space between now and 2015, including Inmarsats Global Express, it is clear that the satellite industrys flying car is finally making its way down the production line.
C-COM Satellite Systems has been involved from the early stages of Ka- availability in North America, manufacturing one of the first Comm-On-The-Pause vehicle-mount auto-pointing Ka-band antennas for the Telesat/Wildblue service. C-COM is in the final stages of completing certification for its new generation auto-pointing Ka band antenna systems for commercial use in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the next few months, C-COM will roll out its production lines of 2 and 3-axis systems compatible with all the different Ka service providers.
75cm and 98cm antennas using C-COMs next generation high-precision platforms configured with the most advanced version of the 7000 iNetVu® controller (Model 7024, which support the latest DVB-S2/ACM modulation as well as Glonass and GPS Navigation Systems), will ship in the second quarter of this year. Later in 2012, C-COM is expected to roll out a number of different Ka- related products for alternate market verticals. C-COM aims to become the global leader in Ka-band mobile antenna manufacturing, and continue its torrid growth in the Ku-, C-and X-band sectors, as well.
We are now in an age where satellite broadband has become economical for almost everyone. In the commercial world, this couldnt come any sooner, as the benefits of using Ka-, even just as a stopgap to remove some strain from existing Ku-band networks, are significant. Smaller antennas, lower power requirements, greater bandwidth at a lower priceall point to a revolution in the satellite broadband industry.
The commissioning of all instrumentation on Americas new Suomi NPP satellite has been nearly completed.
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Severe Weather Forecasting
A powerful instrument designed to give scientists more refined information about Earths atmosphere and improve weather and climate forecasts is now active and sending its first data back to Earth from Americas newest polar-orbiting satellite.
The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) will produce high resolution, three-dimensional temperature, atmospheric pressure, and moisture profiles that will be used in NOAAs weather prediction computer models to forecast severe weather days in advance. Over longer timescales this information will also help scientists understand climate phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.
CrIS is one of five instruments aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP), which NASA launched on October 28, 2011 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Since it reached orbit, those instruments, including four used in space for the first time, are undergoing extensive, initial checkouts before starting regular science observations.
Having data from CrIS will improve the quality, timeliness and accuracy of NOAAs weather and climate predictions, which directly benefits everyone in America, said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAAs Satellite and Information Service.
The Suomi NPP team is expected to continue commissioning activities until the end of March. After that is complete NOAA will operate Suomi NPP, and process and distribute the data to users around the world.
Suomi NPP instrument commissioning is going very well and the team is pleased that the satellite is taking the next step in its mission of providing this critical weather data to NOAA, said Ken Schwer, Suomi NPP project manager.
The Suomi NPP mission is the bridge between NOAAs Polar Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) and NASAs Earth Observing System satellites to the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) which NOAA will operate.
NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Suomi NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NOAA provided the CrIS instrument and the JPSS program provides the satellite ground system. NOAA also provides the operational support.
NOAAs mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earths environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.
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Earth Observation: The Mass Is The Matter
When The U.K. Government announced support to finance half of SSTLs newest radar satellite, it confirmed a trend NSR has seen cropping up in recent times: smaller satellites are gaining ground in both optical and now in SAR markets.
As more manufacturers are looking to address this market with finer ground resolution and smaller satellites at a lower cost (£200 million for four 300 kg. SSTL radar satellites), the effect is likely to be a reduction in the cost of data at the end user side.
In the optical realm, small satellites weighing 300 kg today can offer 70 percent to 80 percent of the capabilities of a traditional commercial EO satellite. These can also offer download speeds and an onboard memory of a 1-ton satellite launched for 10 years. It is a well-known fact in the industry that imagery prices fall at the same time as resolution gets better. For example, the cost of 2 meter PAN optical data has decreased by more than half since 2001. Even if radar data is still more expensive, the decrease is already showing in the low and medium resolution end of the market.
This is now a global requirement as reports surfaced late in 2011 about a contract signed between Japan and Vietnam to use NEC Corporations 500 kg ASNARO platform to build for the Vietnamese two SAR satellites and a ground station for 46 B ¥ (around $590 M).
With an influx of new capacity on the market with these satellites, the overall price of radar data should decline even further. In its recently released Global Satellite-Based Earth Observation, 3rd Edition report, NSR indicated that as small satellites (less than 500 kg) are getting cheaper to produce and launch, their numbers are expected to surpass medium and heavy satellites in the next 10 years.
What NSR considers is a trend in lower mass and more performing spacecraft is a commoditization of satellites that offer higher resolution imagery at a lower price. The barriers to entry for countries and operators that want their own infrastructure are thus coming down slowly and increasing the market pie. At £45 million (roughly $70 million), not only is the SSTL SAR satellite priced much lower than what the market is used to, but it has advanced performance as well. The highest resolution of SAR images with such a platform is six meters at a swath of 12 to 20 km. Just to compare what that means in terms of evolution, the current RADARSAT 2 satellite, launched in 2007 at a cost of over $500 million CAN offers 3 meter resolution for a 20 km swath (albeit at a higher altitude).
The aim of the British Government is openly stated: bring down the cost of data to reach a wider set of potential customers with smaller and cheaper satellites, and it starts at the hardware level. The end result is that a game changing process could well be underway in the EO market with manufacturers such as SSTL, IAI, NEC, and MDA who address this issue. If they are successful, it will mean that mass is part of the equation for the EO data market to expand.
NSRs Global Satellite-Based Earth Observation, 3rd Edition information
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Satellites Tapped For Disaster Response
Matching the power of satellite technology to disaster risk reduction and emergency response here on Earth is the subject of a new publication issued by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).
The reportSpace-based Information for Crowdsource Mapping - Report of the Secretariatstems from expert meetings that individually engaged the talents of over 80 experts and practitioners from over 20 countries.
Those meetings, held in Vienna, Austria and Geneva, Switzerland were organized by the UN-SPIDER with support of the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the Government of Austria.
For the past several years, advancements in technologies have made it possible for virtual communities such as OpenStreetMap, Ushahidi, Sahana, CrisisMappers, Virtual Disaster Viewer, Google MapMaker and Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD) to provide increasing support to disaster preparedness and emergency response efforts.
Central to this virtual effort is the ability to access and take advantage of satellite-gleaned imagery of the Earth, as well as the use of other space-based technologies, particularly, telecommunications satellites and global navigation satellite systems.
This report shows that crowd source mapping and space technologies are natural partners, said Dr. Michael Simpson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation. Our challenge going forward is to ensure that the lines of communication between them are well-nurtured so that they can fulfill their potential to improve human lives.
In the issued report, a number of observations, recommendations and next steps are noted, such as:
Crowdsource mapping is an interdisciplinary field bridging many areas of expertise, including the need to access and use space-based technologies. In order to understand how such technologies could contribute to the work of the volunteer and technical communities, there is a need to better define how the many fields come together to support Crowdsource mapping activities and, more specifically, the common questions being asked by all those involved.
Crowdsourcing of geospatial data and information, including space-based information, can enable an end-user with a specific need to have access to geographical knowledge from both domain experts and ordinary citizens, leading to better decision-making in the area of disaster risk management and emergency response.
The swarm-and-surge capacity (i.e. the convergence of volunteers to address a specific problem), access to local knowledge and the delivery speed of the products are the main strengths and advantages of crowdsourcing.
There is need to map the specific information needs of the end-user communitythe actual disaster and emergency response managers dealing with the problem and, more specifically, how that community has been able to access and use the information provided by the volunteer and technical communities.
Crowdsource mapping is distinct and builds upon crisis mapping. Crisis mapping was understood as live mapping that focused on crises, with the term crisis encompassing slow-burn crises to sudden-onset disasters, and also includes political and humanitarian crises. Crowdsource mapping is a step further, one that takes into account actions and activities that support the full disaster management cyclenot only for emergency and humanitarian response.
Secure World Foundation is very pleased to work in cooperation with the UN-SPIDER, said Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, SWFs European Program Manager based in Brussels, Belgium and a key organizer of the crowdsourcing meetings.
The report is unique in that it draws upon the expertise of space authorities, disaster managers, and individuals from the crowdsourcing community to help build bridges between each other to work in the area of disaster management, Lukaszczyk said. This report signals and strengthens the cooperation among these three communities.
For more information on this newly issued report, contact Agnieszka Lukaszczyk of the Secure World Foundation.
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RUAG Space played a major role in the Vega project and is responsible for the development of the launchers payload fairing and onboard computer.
With Vega, the family of European launchers can now also cater to the smaller end of the market. Measuring in at a height of some 30 meters, this launch vehicle is designed to carry small to medium-sized satellite payloads into low Earth orbits. Vega can carry a payload of approximately 1,500 kilograms to an altitude of 700 km, making it particularly suitable for deploying satellites designed for Earth observation, meteorology and scientific studies. Vega has a lift-off mass of approximately 137 metric tons.
The new launcher was developed as part of an ESA program funded by Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. The industrial prime contractor is the Italian consortium ELV, while the launch service provider is the company Arianespace, which also runs the French Guiana-based launch operations for the Ariane and Soyuz launchers.
Vegas payload fairing is built by RUAG Space in Zurich. The fairing, which is nearly 8 meters long, forms the nose cone of the rocket. Prior to launch, it protects the satellites from high temperatures, solar radiation, dust, moisture and rain at the launch site.
During the first few minutes of flight, the primary job of the fairing is to protect the satellites it encapsulates from extreme noise, frictional heat and mechanical loads. Once the rocket has passed through the Earths atmosphere after the critical first three minutes of flight, the fairing has fulfilled its purpose and can be jettisoned.
The engineers at RUAG Space have more than 40 years experience in making sure that the rocket nose cone survives those all-important first three minutes intact. Since the early days of the European Ariane program, Switzerland has been responsible for producing the nose cones of the western European launch vehicles. RUAG Space is now the worlds leading supplier of payload fairings using composite technology. RUAG fairings are used on both the European Ariane 5 and the American Atlas V 500 launch vehicles.
The Vega fairing uses the same sandwich construction as the Ariane and Atlas fairings. It consists of four shell sections with an aluminum honeycomb core covered with layers of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. With a diameter of 2.60 meters and a length of nearly 8 meters, the fully equipped composite fairing weighs just 530 kilograms thanks to its innovative design. The exterior of the fairing is covered with cork insulating tiles to protect it from the frictional heat generated as it passes through the Earths atmosphere.
The launchers onboard computer and the telemetry antennas are built by RUAG Space Sweden. Compared with the onboard computer used in Ariane 5, the Vega computer offers far more processing power, yet is significantly smaller and lighter.
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4,000 TV Channel Barrier Surpassed
Eutelsat Communications has announced that the number of channels broadcasting through its satellites hit the milestone of 4,000 at the end of 2011. This new landmark reflects almost 30 years of uninterrupted channel growth since the first TV signals broadcast in Europe from Eutelsats pioneering communications satellites.
The threshold was crossed with the launch at Eutelsats 7° West video neighbourhood of Rotana Cinema, devoted to classic and contemporary films in Arabic and part of the Rotana entertainment group. The figures show the continuing attraction of Eutelsats video neighborhoods that have absorbed 2,000 additional channels over the last five years.
The fastest impetus is at positions serving TV markets in the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Central Europe where Eutelsat continues to expand resources, most recently with the launches in 2011 of ATLANTIC BIRD 7 (7° West) to serve viewers in North Africa and the Middle East, and W3C (16° East) for viewers in Central Europe and French-speaking Indian Ocean islandsChannel expansion in Russia and Africa saw a significant boost with the arrival of Eutelsats high-capacity W7 satellite which more than doubled resources at 36° East. A 100 percent digital universe, HDTV on the uptake With switch-off at the end of 2011of the last satellite channels broadcasting in analogue, Eutelsat is the first leading satellite company to be operating in a fully digital universe.
The transition to digital has driven rapid expansion and diversification of thematic television and is now driving the emergence of HD. HDTV, which broke through by satellite into western Europe in 2005, has progressed to all TV markets served by Eutelsats satellites and today accounts for 7 percent of all channels.
Pay-TV and Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasting continue to expand in parallel. Sixty per cent of channels on Eutelsat are pay-TV, available through over 40 platforms serving markets in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. Forty percent are free-to-air, with the highest concentration of FTA at Eutelsats flagship HOT BIRD neighborhood and at 7° West.
Eutelsat broadcasting milestones
1983 - Eutelsat transmits first satellite TV channel in Europe
1995 - Launch of first commercial digital (DVB) channels
2001 - 1,000 channel milestone reached 2005 - Launch of first HDTV channels
2006 - 2,000 channel milestone reached
2008 - 3,000 channel milestone reached
2011 - Switch-off of analogue satellite broadcasting
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Capacity Contract To Drive DTH
SES has announced that Media Networks Latin America (MNLA) has signed a long-term capacity deal to expand its payTV service across Central America and the Caribbean.
Under the milestone partnership, MNLA, a unit of Telefonica Digital, has secured multiple transponders on SES AMC-4 satellite in order to launch a new DTH wholesale payTV service reaching new audiences with a combined lineup of international and regional SD and HD channels.
The SES spacecraft AMC-4, strategically located at 67 degrees West, allows MNLA to meet the DTH demand in Central America and the Caribbean as well as other future growth markets with its existing ground infrastructure, including its teleport in Lima, Peru. AMC-4 was deployed in 2010 and provides expansion capacity in Latin America for a broad range of applications, such as rural telecommunications, VSAT networks, e-learning, payTV and mobile broadband.
With the relocation of AMC-3 to 67 degrees West at the end of February in 2012, SES is further strengthening and complementing its coverage and offering from this orbital position.
Among The First For The Beam
Spacecom, operator of the AMOS satellite fleet, has announced that IO Sat, a provider of satellite broadband data services for small and medium size businesses, is one of the first customers providing its services on the AMOS-5 communications satellite.
Spacecoms AMOS-5 satellite, serving Africa from the 17 degrees East orbital position with C- and Ku-band beams, recently began commercial operations. IO Sat is using ample capacity on the satellites C-band beam to offer an array of data, voice and video applications to clients requiring services in Africa.