APSCC Q2 2019

This month our magazine is devoted to Smallsats. While many of us have spent our careers working with relatively large GEO satellite systems, we are all familiar with the smallsats systems introduced in the 1990s – Iridium, Globalstar and Orbcomm. Today we define smallsats as having a launch mass of under 500kg.

According to Maxime Puteaux of Euroconsult there were 319 smallsats launched in 2018 down from 330 in 2017. Euroconsult projects that in the next 10 years there will be 7,000 smallsats launched, at an average of 580/year by 2022 growing to an average of 820/year by 2027 driven primarily by the rollout of several large constellations for Earth observation, communications and data collection services (82% of the 7,000 smallsats).

Asia is expected to be the second largest smallsat market in the next ten years, with 900 smallsats costing $6.7 billion compared to the 230 smallsats launched during the last decade.

Most importantly, Maxime notes that with the commoditization of hardware, standardization and increasing price pressure we should expect to see Asian countries becoming major suppliers for subsystems, in a similar fashion to consumer electronics.

NSR’s Senior Analyst, Shagun Sachdeva writes that by 2027 the market is expected to yield 6,500 smallsats launch at $37 billion ($9.6B in Asia alone) in cumulative revenues from smallsat manufacturing and launch services.

Sami Ben Amor from Thales Alenia Space believes that there is no reason why satellite electronics should not follow Moore’s law and show an exponential increase of capabilities with time, citing TAS’ own experience with on-board processing capabilities that have increased 1000 times in the past 15 years. Sami also notes that the emergence of a new class of entrepreneurs is a major factor in the growth of small satellites, quoting an NSR report that showed 600 emerging space companies now operating and $13 Billion raised over the last 4 years.

This is just the beginning of the story and our latest edition. Today’s smallsats have pioneered new additive manufacturing techniques, 3D printing, production line processing, new smaller, cheaper, faster launch services including rideshares, and the spectre of additional orbital debris.

We also have an interview with Conrad Chee from Measat, who won our APSCC Young Talent Award at APSCC 2018. Conrad received a full scholarship to the International Space University (ISU) 2019 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SH-SSP), an intensive, five week academic program for which the ISU is renowned. Conrad talks about the ISU program and how winning our award has enhanced his career.

Finally, we have an interview with Vivian Quenet, Managing Director and Head of Sales, Singapore Asean Office for Arianespace who talks about the recent Ariane 5 100th flight and the future for Ariane 6. As for its Asian missions, over the past 35 years Ariane has launched a total of 84 satellites for 17 Asian operators from 10 different countries!

So enjoy our Spring/Summer issue and see you all in Singapore for AVIA, ConnecTech Asia and Jakarta for APSAT and have a great summer.


Gregg Daffner
President, APSCC

Growth and Development of the Global Small Satellite Market

Maxime Puteaux, Senior Consultant, Euroconsult


The small satellite (with a launch mass <500 kg) community is now entering a new phase, with post-adolescent energy and potential. Having laid out high expectations for the past years, the industry now must live up to and deliver on its promises, overcoming the uncertainties of its young life. Sustainability of several business models will be a stake; with perhaps a surplus of suppliers in some segments compared to what demand is looking to bankroll, 2019 will be a very interesting stress test of the whole community.

Smallsats have enjoyed continuous growth for the past ten years, breaking record after record of number of assets being launched, with an increasing number of new or established players entering the market. With 319 smallsats launched, 2018 didn’t break 2017’s record of 330, but 16 tons of smallsats were launched compared to only six tons in 2017.

According to Euroconsult’s 4th edition of Prospects for the Small Satellite Market (2018), the next 10 years are poised to see 7,000 smallsats launched, at an average of 580/year by 2022 growing to an average of 820/year by 2027. Euroconsult’s forecast for the next ten years increased by 13% over the last edition of this report, highlighting the untapped potential of several applications and regions of the world.

The future smallsat market will be driven by the rollout of several constellations, mainly for commercial operators for Earth observation, communications and data collection services. Constellations will account for 82% of the 7,000 smallsats to be launched. Constellations are a cyclical market with strong year-to-year variations driven by their initial deployment in batches within a short period of time in order to begin services as soon as possible. The market for single satellites (about 1,250 units) is more distributed over time.

Most future smallsats (i.e. 80%) will be launched into low Earth orbit (LEO). Telecom constellations in LEO allow for global mobile connectivity with low latency. Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) will be the main destination for Earth observation satellites. The geostationary orbit is increasingly used as an injection orbit for scientific and exploration missions beyond Earth orbit.

The mega-constellation projects from SpaceX (Starlink), OneWeb, and more recently Amazon (Project Kuiper) concentrate most satellites, mass, and market value. However, they are not representative of the industry as a whole, which is highly diverse as many operators, start-ups, universities, and emerging countries are accessing space for the first time, thanks to smallsats’ growing affordability and capabilities.


# of smallsats launched

Source: Euroconsult’s Prospects for Smallsats report 4th
What to expect in 2019?

Several milestones are expected; mega constellations for broadband will start the deployment of their first-generation prototypes but have yet to secure enough financing. Multiple Internet of Things (IoT) constellation projects have emerged in the past few years but some are expected to fail this year. On the Earth observation side, existing constellations like those of Planet and UrtheCast are now operational and have to deliver on investors’ expectations about revenues and return on investment; their evolution will influence less advanced projects in their vertical segment or new niche market. Deployment of commercial SAR constellation like ICEYE, Capella, and Synspective are scheduled, allowing commercial services to begin soon. The launch of new generations of smallsat hyperspectral constellations is expected. On the satellite manufacturing side, while constellation assembly lines are expected to begin, more consolidation is expected in tiers two and three given the multiple players.

Miniaturization and technology improvements offer smallsat customers the choice between increasingly lighter satellites (at equivalent performance) or more capable satellites with mass increase because of improved capabilities (lifetime, propulsion, stabilization). Several electric propulsion suppliers are expected to validate their solutions in-orbit, enabling new use cases for satellite operators. Thanks to these improvements, cubesats are now able to deliver operational services while, in the heaviest mass category, 500 kg satellites can deliver more than some 1-ton satellites were doing in the past.

Diversity in access to space is increasing with a variety of capacities and qualities of service. Smallsat operators currently launch with medium to heavy launchers that are contracted directly or through launch brokers. Several dedicated smallsat launchers are in development, in order to be more responsive to market needs (on time, on orbit), but at the expense of a premium in specific price (price per kg into orbit).  After Rocket Lab, other U.S, Indian and Chinese micro launchers are poised for demonstration.


Two decades of smallsat revenues* by region of operator

*manufacturing and launch values
Source: Euroconsult’s Prospects for Smallsats report 4th
What’s next for smallsats in Asia?

Asian’s demand drivers

Asia is expected to be the second largest smallsat market in the next ten years, in terms of units (900 smallsat) and value ($6.7 billion) compared to the 230 smallsats launched during the last decade. Euroconsult anticipates that half of the demand should come from government missions, most of which are for civilian use. China alone should launch more than two thirds of the government Asian market (~170 units), and the remaining smallsats will come from more than 10 countries. Very few smallsat projects will be used by the military, who still favor satellites >500 kg for security.

The commercial segment will represent the other half of the market, mostly for Earth observation, telecom, and Information constellations. We anticipate fewer smallsats for defense and science & exploration in Asia compared to the other applications, and such smallsats are rather concentrated in Japan, China and India.

In terms of application, technology demonstration is expected to be the major application with ~30 smallsats/year by 2027. Two-thirds of these satellites will adopt the cubesat form factor, in the <10 kg mass category, mainly for academic institutions. ~20 smallsats/year for Earth observation smallsats will be launched of which two-thirds will be part of constellations, both commercial (such as Jilin from China, GRUS or Canon both from Japan) and governmental (like Zhuhai from the Chinese Beijing Institute and Cosmic-2 from Taiwan for meteorology). China’s effort to expand its domestic market can be seen through its new broadband communication projects of Hongyan and Hongyun, which add greatly to the units to be launched in the Asian satcom market in the next ten years compared to the previous decade.

The information sector should also gain in importance in the future, as 20 smallsats/year are estimated by 2027. The multiple projects identified in these segments, such as Australia’s Fleet (IoT/M2M applications) and China’s Skywalker (AIS) and Xingyun (IoT) constellations, raise the question of business model sustainability considering that all these projects combined have CAPEX requirements above $1 billion required for manufacture and launch.


Maturity of main smallsat dedicated launchers in development

Supplier’s opportunities in Asia

With a fairly concentrated demand in a few countries, the Asian market is very complex to navigate with established suppliers and high barriers to entry for satellite manufacturers, although a fair number of opportunities lie in research projects or commercial pathfinders.

At the subsystem level, commoditization of hardware, standardization and current pressure on price create the conditions required to see Asian countries become very competitive suppliers for both domestic and foreign customers, in a similar fashion to consumer electronics.

Regarding access to space, India’s PSLV has been the workhorse of the global community thanks to regular flight opportunities. Dozens of micro launcher companies are blooming in China, and the sustainability of these value propositions has yet to be seen. Additional opportunities may emerge in launch aggregation between customers and suppliers across the region.

On the ground segment side, mass production of flat panel antennas, critical to the success of broadband constellations, offers significant opportunities.

For value-added services, Asia offers several opportunities for development of services and analytics thanks to the highly educated workforce. Many services already available in western countries have yet to reach some vertical markets despite owning strong potential to sustain socio-economic development.  

Maxime Puteaux is a Senior Consultant at Euroconsult, based in Paris, France. He manages and contributes to Euroconsult’s research reports and client-specific missions focusing on small satellites and the innovation aspects in the space sector. Maxime holds a Masters’ Degree in Law with a specialization in Space and Telecommunication Law from the Institut du Droit de l’Espace et des Télécommunications (IDEST), South Paris University. He’s an alumni of International Space University and McGill University.

The Rise of Small Satellites

Sami Ben Amor, Head of Marketing, Thales Alenia Space


There is not a week without some announcement related to small satellites since a few years and this appears to cover all segments of space business. We see indeed multiple services based on different flavors of small satellites as emerging space companies propose alternate business concepts, new constellations to connect or monitor the world, new initiatives from universities or countries to set a small satellites lab somewhere.

Figure 1 : Constellations trends (source NSR 2019)
Market forces at work

As small satellites (defined here as below 500kg) seem to be the unifying factor underlying all these initiatives, let us try to understand what are the drivers favoring this strong trend.

There is a convergence of multiple factors that push towards the use of small satellites. The major drivers are new technological capabilities and a lowering of barriers and the emergence of entrepreneurs who realized the business potential these small satellites offered.

Electronics miniaturization is an obvious trend. There is no reason why satellite electronics should not follow Moore’s law and show an exponential increase of capabilities with time. As a homegrown example Thales Alenia Space on board processing capabilities has increased 1000 times in 15 years allowing today the full band-processing of VHTS satellites which was only a dream a few years ago.

Sensors are also following this trend and we see today optical sensors that offer extraordinary performances in a compact format, thus opening the path for miniaturized instrumentation. The growing integration of processing electronics within the sensor itself only confirms this integration trend.

Another technological breakthrough is the short term emergence of flat panel antennas (FPA). For companies focusing on telecom services, FPA promise simpler, more reliable multi-satellite solution that makes them key enablers for mobility & connectivity.

Another mega-trend deeply affecting our ecosystem is the extremely fast growth & omnipresence of the cloud and deep learning algorithms that commoditize data crunching. Cheap, automated processing of an enormous amount of images is the linchpin of many new business approaches such as insight services for remote sensing.

There is also a significant lowering of barriers that were blocking small satellites initiatives.

The most obvious is the rapid evolution of the launch offer, as new launchers, rideshare offers or even space tugs now make it possible to launch and deploy small satellites for a reasonable price and in due time.

Ground segment and data storage and processing as a service in a digital platform model is also an enabler for new comers. Emerging companies can now concentrate on their fundamentals such as building an infrastructure or a better service offer without having to spend precious resources on ground segments & data distribution.

The emergence of a new class of entrepreneurs is also a major factor in the growth of small satellites. NSR recently reported on the vitality of this segment and showed 600 emerging space companies now operating and 13 Billion raised over the last 4 years. Fueled by the lower barrier & new technological capabilities, these companies devised new business models based on constellations, global reach, permanent observation or connectivity. They collectively convinced venture capitalists, foundations and governments to support them in their initiatives.

As these entrepreneurs led the fray with new service concepts, a second type of companies dedicated to very small satellites manufacturing is emerging fast. These companies are redefining a complete supply chain for small satellites. They cover most of the value chain with equipment, sensors, platforms and offer low cost serial production capabilities once a prototype is defined.

As we have seen, technologies advances, easier access to space, virtualization of the ground segment led to the development of new service companies which in turn, leads to the emergence of dedicated small satellite industry.

From a 1U classroom built satellite to a 400 kg out of an automated production chain telecommunication constellation satellite, there is a very wide range of satellites varying wildly in size, mission, performances, lifetime and production approach. Starting from businesses’ requirement, we can see that several small satellite types fit the different needs.


Telecommunication & IOT

Starting with telecommunication, business drivers can be somewhat antagonistic at system level, we can either imagine a cheap, low complexity space system that leads to more complexity and cost on the ground segment or instead a more sophisticated, larger satellite design that aims at simplifying the mission ground segment, user segment and improving user experience.

In the former case, we end up with smaller satellites in the range of 100-200kg with relatively low power bent pipe payload and unsophisticated antenna systems. In the later, we have high power payloads with on-board digital processing, highly sophisticated antennas and inter-satellite links, each of these features being a size and mass driver. Satellites in that category consequently fall on the high end of small satellites with masses ranging above 300 Kg and sometimes above 500kg.

Thales Alenia Space, who has built all communication constellations in operation to date, developed satellites in the 500 Kg class as our designs favored rather complex satellites and simple ground segment for minimal operation expenditures. As an example, Iridium NEXT constellation, which is now fully operating, is based on software defined satellite with active antennas and inter satellite link. Consequently, the system only needs a few gateways to operate.

Figure 2 : Completed Iridium Next satellite (photo : Thales Alenia Space)

Another promising business segment is space-based internet of things. As the number of connected devices is expected to soar above 22 Billion in years to come, many IOT applications will require satellites as they focus on mobility & worldwide homogeneous service. Their business drivers are however rather different from other communication services as they need to be compatible with very low power beacon, provide geo-localization and insure an extremely efficient usage of the limited spectrum. Last but not least, these systems need to be extremely cost effective as they compete with terrestrial IOT solutions. These drivers lead to constellation concepts with very small but highly sophisticated payloads, typically software defined.

Dedicated IOT operators are addressing the need differently by designing IOT-specific constellations of Nanosats. For this range of products, Thales Alenia Space is positioned as system designer with a focus on building payloads & ground segments. We rely on external partners to supply the Nanosats itself. As an example, the KINEIS program led by CLS requires 20 nanosats which will be based on NEXEYA platform while Thales Alenia Space provides payloads, system engineering and Ground infrastructure.

General telecom constellation operators are also addressing this IOT market through primary missions (Globalstar, Iridium NEXT) or secondary payloads (Aeron plane tracking payloads on board Iridium for example). Thales Alenia Space has delivered both of these constellations which offer native IOT.


Earth observation

There is extreme satellite size and mass diversity in earth observation satellites type with some companies using optical nanosats in the 6U/12U range while other requiring very large (well above 500kg), extremely powerful optical or radar satellites.

This business is driven by three fundamentals: Innovation & time to market, performance & revisit time; CAPEX efficiency. Operators are consequently segmented along these drivers.


Smallsats for Earth Observation

Figure 3 : Earth Observation constellation trends

We have companies focusing on very high performance satellites in small quantities with low revisit rates (every day or few days), these offer resolutions around 50 cm and very high image quality. Their satellites often require specific architectures with multiple band sensors including infrared and hyper-spectral, sophisticated on board processing and powerful RF transmission. All of these technical needs drive up the satellite mass & complexity and these birds often reach the 4/500 Kg range.

Thales Alenia Space very high resolution optical satellites solutions (HE series) clearly fall in this performance & mass segment. Interestingly, high end operators are busy completing their high performance offer with high revisit through in house product developments or strategic partnerships.

On the opposite, many emerging space companies are focusing less on the image quality than on their ability to deliver very high revisit rates (i.e. hourly) for a given site. Although their overall system architecture can be very complex as they need massive real time processing & image distribution, their space segments will rely on much less complex satellites with resolutions ranging from 0.9m and above, with simpler platforms & avionics, more limited sensors (visible bands) while also avoiding complex on board processing and power hungry transmission. As a direct consequence of their business model & simpler space segment, these companies (e.g. Blacksky, Planet) procure constellations of tens or even hundreds of small satellites (from a few kg to #50 kg) to maximize the revisit and meet their business requirements.

Thales Alenia Space has chosen to develop this product family with strategic partner Blacksky and our common Joint Venture – Leostella – is currently busy building constellations in a small satellites dedicated production facility.

Figure 4 : Leosat optical satellite in production (photo : Thales Alenia Space)

In between these two extremes, multiple operators are seeking medium revisit rates (every few hours) with resolutions above 50 cm, visible & near infrared mission. Their satellite masses typically range between 70 and 300 Kg.

A final class of need for very small satellite is education & skill developments. Many universities & countries are using very low cost, project specific nanosats. These satellites are a very interesting path to bootstrap developments in the field of space but remain very specific.

We have seen here the extreme diversity and versatility of small satellites. Fueled by technology miniaturization & emerging space, they can address the needs of existing or new business segments. For established businesses such as communication & remote sensing, small satellites are used to complement existing solutions. For new business concepts, small satellites are often the primary solution for the operators.

After a PhD in Physics, Sami Ben Amor held different research positions in Academia. He joined Alcatel where he held various technical positions. He eventually transferred to marketing and was based in Asia on behalf of Thales Alenia Space. Upon his return to Europe, he led the advanced project teams and R&D activities. He is now the head of marketing for Thales Alenia Space.

Growth and Challenges of Smallsats

Shagun Sachdeva, Senior Analyst, NSR


Smallsats have brought about a very welcome and much needed change to the space industry. It has bridged the gap between innovation and implementation by helping foster a creative approach to delivering space products and services that might pull the industry out of the traditional paradigm that constrains both cost cutting and market growth. In the past decade, a vast number of new smallsat players have entered the space market with diverse business models targeting a multitude of applications.

Despite a 30% decline in launch rates in 2018, small satellites are expected to regain growth over the next decade. While growth is anticipated across all applications, communications will drive the largest share of revenues, with some of the largest constellations planned in this segment, which, in some cases, are planning to deploy unprecedented numbers at a record pace. With the influx of innovative concepts from pay-per-use model to satellite-as-a-service model to mass production facilities, there is a solution for every requirement, making access to space easier than it has even been.


Globally Growing Market

NSR’s Small Satellite Markets, 5th Edition report forecasts the market to yield $37 billion in cumulative revenues from smallsat manufacturing and launch services by 2027, with 6,500 smallsats set to launch during this period. The last few years have been dominated by non-constellation satellite launches, which are associated with a relatively higher manufacturing value per satellite. This is expected to change as more satellite constellations begin to launch over the coming years.

Overall, the biggest share of launches is expected to come from the Communications vertical with over 3,200 satellites expected to be launched in the next decade, making up the largest share of the cumulative small satellite market launches as well as the cumulative market value.


Global Small Satellite Launches by Region

Source: NSR

While the growth is expected in all regions, North America is expected to dominate the market with over 40 smallsat constellations currently planned and some of the biggest systems (in volume) expected to come from this region. Cumulatively, the region will see $17.7 billion in revenues over the next 10 years. Asia is one of the fastest growing regions with a CAGR of 17% as a high number of players are entering the market and the trend is expected to continue as space ambitions of the emerging countries in the region grow.


Asia Small Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Market Value

Source: NSR

More recently, NSR’s Emerging Space Markets Analysis, 2nd Edition report stated that excluding the big outliers (OneWeb, SpaceX, Blue Origin, O3B, Virgin Group, and Planet), Asia with 15% of the pie closely trails North America and Western Europe regions. Most of these investments are expected to be attributed to small satellite market. This indicates a slow but sure sign of the growing investment dynamics within Asia, and more can be expected in the years to come. Cumulatively, the small satellite market in Asia is expected to yield $9.6 billion in revenues over the next 10 years.


Future trends for small satellite market

Since the onset, smallsats are perceived as the low-cost solutions to the traditional satellites and pressure is constantly put on manufacturers and launchers to lower their costs further while increasing capabilities. Although NSR does not believe that smallsats can or will completely replace the traditional GEO satellites, there are a number of trends that aim to increase the capabilities of smallsats while keeping the costs relatively low.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques have revolutionized the general manufacturing industry, and in recent years, has proved to be an efficient tool for reducing lead times for satellite sub-components as well as launchers. 3D printing in now fairly commonly used for prototypes and subcomponents. Relativity Space is going a step further with its plans to produce an entirely 3D printed rocket. Made in Space and FOMS Inc. are both working towards manufacturing fiber optics in space, in order to reduce the cost, impurities and complexity associated with manufacturing of these components on Earth. There are a number of other initiatives in cost efficient subsystems including propulsion, thermal and radiation shield systems.

Similarly, on the launch service side, dedicated launch service providers including Rocket Lab, that launched its first flight in November 2018 and Expace Technologies (parent company CASIC) are offering low cost, relative low lead time and flexible scheduling for smallsat launches. Rideshare offers low cost services, however as smallsats are reliant on the dedicated satellites, delays have been experienced in this category and the orbit for smallsats are suboptimal. Other initiatives like Spaceflight’s dedicated Falcon 9 are also helping to increase access to dedicated rideshares on a high launch rate vehicle.

The picosatellites segment (mass <1 kg) is also to grow over the next 10 years. Currently, the market value associated with picosatellites is quite small, both due the low volume and the cost per satellite. However, technological developments enabling higher capability picosats, combined with business models dedicated to offering services in this category is expected to open the doors for commercial services. Like other mass categories of small satellites, however, launch remains the biggest challenges for picosatellites. The relatively low demand for picosatellites makes the business case challenging for better launcher solutions for this segment.

There is also a growing trend towards smallsat missions beyond LEO. Over the last decade, most of the smallsat missions (1-500 kg) have been focussed on LEO missions and higher orbits have been dominated by larger satellites, mostly due to better capabilities of the bigger satellites. There have been a handful of small sat missions that go beyond GEO, the majority of those have been for lunar missions. The ability to launch smallsats in MEO and GEO can offer the cost benefits associated with smallsat platforms without the complexities (and added costs) of the necessary ground segment, however, propulsion (in)capabilities have been the biggest limiting factor for the smallsat market. Companies like Roccor and Bradford are working on resolving these limitations by offering innovative solutions.

There is also a growing interest in LEO/GEO hybrid missions, with the new players trying to leverage existing assets and established players, likewise taking advantage of LEO system. A good example of this is Inmarsat/Addvalue’s agreement to work on an Inter-Satellite Data Relay System.


Challenges That Come With This Growth

A market that has historically been relatively slow to develop is bound to experience immense pressure on existing infrastructure with an accelerated expansion. Launch is already one of the biggest constraints in the industry. Despite the growing number of players, serving both – dedicated and rideshare/ piggy-backing – options, the launch segment is expected to remain one of the biggest bottlenecks of the small satellite market over the next decade.

Similarly, successfully and sustainably increasing the lead time of satellite manufacturing from an average 2-3 years per satellite to up to 40 satellites per week (just for a single constellation) will rely upon supply chain management at all tiers of satellite manufacturing. While new companies are entering the market to help unblock the promised value and reduce certain constraints, the overall supply growth rate does not seem to be agile enough to cope with the growing demand.

Another vulnerability of the growing small satellite market lies in the lack of adequate space traffic tracking and management regime. As the number of satellites in orbit starts to grow, there is a burgeoning risk of collision and general disarray, made even worse by the absence of propulsion on many small satellites. As the industry enters this new and essentially unfamiliar phase, having timely and accurate information will also be crucial, not only for collision prevention but also to enable execution of the regulations.


Bottom Line

Small satellite business model is challenging the status quo by bringing in new ideas and leveraging existing assets – both in space and on the ground to derive more performance from established architectures. With some of the largest systems planned, constellations will be the dominating factor of this growth, making up over 70% of the total market.

As the technology develops and small satellites grow in applicability, there will be a shift towards hybrid architectures either through M&As or strategic alliances. New business models are opening new revenue streams and opportunities in the small satellite market with relative simplicity and the associated low-cost architecture that are enabling easier access to the space industry.

Shagun Sachdeva joined NSR in December 2017. Prior to joining the team, she worked as the Business and Marketing strategist at Satellite Squared. During her time there, Sachdeva’s main activities included the market analysis and segmentation, identification of potential customers as well as the valuation studies for the company’s core product concepts: In-Orbit Servicing and Satellite Power Boosting.

 Interview with Vivian Quenet,

Managing Director and Head Of Sales, Singapore Asean Office, Arianespace


Can you give us highlights on Arianespace in 2018, both globally and in the Asia Pacific region?

In 2018, Arianespace launched 11 times from the European Space port in French Guiana, with six Ariane 5, three Soyuz and two Vega. Our heavy launcher entered the hall of fame with its 100th flight, which also marked Arianespace’s 300th mission! Ariane 5 performed four commercial double launches, three of them carrying satellites for our Asian customers: in April for the Japanese Minister of Defence and SKY Perfect JSAT, in September for a joint venture between SKY Perfect JSAT and Intelsat, and in December for the Indian and Korean space agencies ISRO and KARI. We also encountered commercial successes with the successful introduction of Ariane 6 on the commercial market sealed by a multi-launch agreement with the operator Eutelsat. We kept on capturing new satellites for Vega and Vega C, notably in Asia with KOMPSAT-7 to answer the needs of the KARI and THEOS-2 with Airbus Defence and Space for Thailand’s GISTDA. On the GEO segment, 2018 was also rich with Arianespace orbiting half of the GEO satellites launched for the year and capturing about 70% of the market share, notably with two new ISRO satellites entrusted to Ariane 5.


How do you see the evolution of the market and how will you address it?

The GEO market is hitting lower levels, but we expect a rebound to come within 2019/ 2020. The constellation market is gaining momentum, though we have to see how many projects will come to fruition. The small satellite market is quite active with many start-ups developing new opportunities, but still with the challenge to find the relevant financing to launch these satellites.

In this regard, our strategy in the Asia-Pacific region is the same as elsewhere: to build on our assets! Reliability, availability, quality of service, flexibility thanks to our launcher family and competitiveness are the fundamental values of Arianespace to serve our customers for GEO and NGEO segments, as well as the SmallSat market for all types of applications (Broadcast, Broadband, Earth Observation, Navigation, Science).

Arianespace is able to orbit “any mass, to any orbit, at any time”. Ariane 64 (4 boosters) will address the GEO market (from small to heavy payloads) to replace Ariane 5 after three years (2020 / 2022) of overlap, with its reliability as heritage and costs reduced. Ariane 62 (2 boosters) will mainly address the European institutional NGEO market, and in complementarity with Ariane 64 and Vega / Vega C, the commercial constellation market as well as the SmallSats market. Vega/Vega C, will mainly target the commercial/export NGEO Earth observation market. Both Vega / Vega C and Ariane 62 will address together these markets with adapted systems: re-ignitable upper stage for both Vega / Vega C and Ariane 62 adding versatility for constellations; SSMS and MLS adapters respectively on Vega/Vega C and Ariane 6 for the launch of SmallSats in rideshare missions.

Ariane 6 and Vega C will soon be there. Can you tell us more?

The next generation of European launchers is coming! In 2018 the industry has hit numerous milestones notably with the P120C, the common booster to Ariane 6 and Vega C. The first Vega C and Ariane 6 will arrive in the course of 2019 to start the first combined tests in French Guiana. We are busy preparing the maiden flights of both our new launchers. Vega C is expected to fly in first half of 2020, while Ariane 6 will have its first flight during the second half of 2020. Arianespace also unveiled in March 2019 that OneWeb – the broadband satellite constellation relying on more than 600 LEO spacecraft- will be the first customer to board on Ariane 6. We are very excited to perform another mission for OneWeb on the occasion of the Ariane 62 maiden flight performed by the 2-booster version.

What’s the news for Arianespace and in the Asia Pacific region?

2019 will be a busy year for Arianespace with up to 12 launches from our Spaceport in French Guiana. During the first quarter, we have performed three successful launches with our family of launch vehicles: Ariane 5 orbited two telecommunication satellites including one for the Indian Space Agency (ISRO) on February 5; Soyuz orbited the first six satellites of OneWeb telecommunication constellation on February 27; Vega orbited the Italian space PRISMA satellite dedicated to earth Observation on March 21.

On the Asia Pacific front, our successes with Vega/Vega C for Korea and Thailand last year have confirmed a key differentiator. With Vega and Ariane 62 the fact that our spaceport located in Guiana close to the equator allows us to launch observation satellites in equatorial orbit with a better performance. As an example, we are able to launch more than 3 tons to equatorial orbit with a Vega C and more than 10 tons with Ariane 62. This makes the price/kg unbeatable and an ideal solution for LEO equatorial constellation. In summary, our customers get a very reliable and attractive solution to serve their needs.

For the GEO segment, we expect a market rebound to materialize in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Asia and its geography (islands, mountains, remote places), its natural disasters (typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos) and its regulations (regulated broadband and broadcast) will always need GEO regional satellites. I expect the number of orders to grow in 2019 and 2020. Ariane 5, then Ariane 6 are perfectly suited to answer this market.

In summary, Arianespace has launched a total of 84 satellites for 17 Asian operators from 10 different countries over the past 35 years. A further five satellites are in our backlog to be launched for customers in India, Japan and South Korea. Capitalizing on this strong partnership with Asia Pacific operators, institutions and agencies, we are determined to continue to address the dynamic demand of the region with our family of launchers.

Vivian Quenet is Arianespace’s Managing Director and Head of Sales for the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to assuming this role, he was Vice President and Managing Director Asia-Pacific for KVH Industries. During his tenure, which began in March 2011, he set up the company’s Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore, as well as new sales offices in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Quenet previously served as the Asia-Pacific Sales Director for mobile satellite communications provider Vizada/Marlink. Over a span of 10 years, Quenet worked to bring satellite communications services to commercial mariners in several regions.


Q & A with Conrad Chee, Winner of 2018 APSCC Young Talent Award


The APSCC Young Talent Award is the latest initiative of APSCC to ensure a healthy future for the satellite industry and to attract and retain young talent to the satellite and space industries in Asia-Pacific region.

Conrad Chee, Principal Engineer of the Spectrum Management team in MEASAT Satellite Systems, was selected as the winner of 2018 APSCC Young Talent Award at APSCC 2018 Satellite Conference & Exhibition,2-4 October 2018, Jakarta, Indonesia.

To give the best of the young staff encouragement and public recognition of their contributions, the winner received full scholarship sponsored by the International Space University and Boeing for the 2018 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SH-SSP). The Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program from 14 January to 15 February 2019 is an intensive, five week, live-in experience in the southern hemisphere summer, involving the international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary educational philosophy for which the International Space University (ISU) is renowned.

Q&A with Conrad Chee takes an opportunity to share his experience with potential award winners and young professionals in the satellite industry.

Can you tell us about your professional background?

I joined MEASAT as a spectrum engineer in 2007 after completing my Master’s degree at the University of Hull. My primary role at the time was to work within the processes defined by the ITU Radio Regulations and the local regulator as well as performing interference analysis. Besides that, I had a secondary role assisting the satellite and launch procurement department.

In my current role as Principal Engineer, I lead a team of 5 engineers in the Spectrum Management department and work closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on technical negotiations in bilateral and multilateral frequency coordination meetings within the framework of the ITU-R Radio Regulations. I am responsible for MEASAT’s adherence to ITU-R procedures including the process of registering satellite orbital slots to the Radiocommunication Bureau of ITU as well as issues concerning radio frequency use and satellite frequency spectrum use.

Best academic award prize presented by Dr. Omar Hatamleh, Program Director SSP
What was the highlight of your careers in the satellite industry?

The highlight of my career has to be the successful launch and operation of the MEASAT-3b satellite. This is a project in which I was deeply involved in, even before the satellite contract was signed. We first had to secure the BSS and FSS Plan bands for expansion of national DTH services and lay the groundwork for the MEASAT-3b satellite programme. Subsequently, I participated in the bidder selection process, contract negotiations, design and pre-shipment reviews and in-orbit test planning.

The in-orbit test planning was a particularly challenging phase. The geostationary arc is very congested and to identify a suitable orbital position that is able to allow comprehensive testing of the satellite without causing interference to other satellites in-orbit is an uphill task. To make matters worse, we were faced with a co-passenger delay on the launch which resulted in additional pressure on the test schedule. Thanks to excellent teamwork between Airbus and MEASAT personnel, the tests were completed as scheduled and the satellite’s health was confirmed.

Certificate of completion presented by Dr. Omar Hatamleh, Program Director SSP and Prof. Simon Beecham, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation and Pro Vice Chancellor: ITEE
What is the greatest advantage you feel you gained through your Young Talent Award winning? What does it bring to your professional career?

To have my contributions recognized by the respected members of the awards panel is most definitely a confidence booster and I strive to continue delivering and better myself. Besides that, together my fellow award winners, we now have a larger responsibility as role models to inspire future generations of talents in the satellite industry.


What have you learned from your winning prize – the SHSSP?

The SHSSP is a multi-disciplinary course which encourages participants to address issues from various angles. It covers not just the sciences of rocketry and space flight but also the regulatory environment and even the role arts play in space. Attending this course has allowed me to look at space with a wider perspective.

The most eye-opening part of the course for me was the professional diversity of the participants. Of course we had the usual rocket scientists, astrophysicists and meteorologists. But amazingly, we also had lawyers, teachers, accountants and even a poet. It was a learning experience working with such diverse personalities and it was interesting listening to their thoughts and ideas.

Meeting with ESA Astronaut Mr Paolo Nespoli
What advice would you give young people in the satellite industry or considering careers in it?

Keep learning and growing your knowledge. If you come across a problem you cannot solve, leverage on people around you who can help. When I joined MEASAT, I was blessed with the opportunity to work in an environment with open knowledge sharing and I feel that this helped me grow tremendously and also encouraged me to stay as long as I have.

Don’t be shackled by your job scope which should be treated as a minimum deliverable. Working beyond your job scope and helping others where possible allows you to learn more things faster and builds trust of others in your character and capability.

SHSSP Rocket launch event.

Conrad Chee is the Principal Engineer of the Spectrum Management team in MEASAT Satellite Systems. He is responsible for MEASAT’s adherence to ITU-R procedures as well as issues concerning radio frequency use. In his role in MEASAT, Conrad works closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on technical negotiations in all bilateral and multilateral frequency coordination meetings within the framework of the ITU-R Radio Regulations and is involved in the process of registering satellite orbital slots to the Radiocommunication Bureau of ITU. He actively participates in national and regional meetings relating to spectrum matters. Amongst his contributions, his work in the Industry Working Group established by MCMC helped secure additional spectrum for expansion of national DTH services in the BSS and FSS planned bands.