Not-So-Brief: Busy November – DC5G, Many many launches, FCC satellite rulings

November is shaping up as stuffed as Thanksgiving dinner participants.

DC5G in DC

DC5G is a policy event with a mix of wireless and satellite stakeholders along with the usual vendor suspects discussing all things 5G.  Space-SkyFi is expected to release information about its public/private venture backed by aerospace and cellular firms to create a microsatellite constellation offering “protected” global internet coverage – whatever that means.  Given SpaceX, LeoSat, Telesat, and OneWeb already have building broadband networks in motion while SAS moving forward with a narrowband data and voice “belt” around the equator, Space-SkyFi is hopping into a crowded market.

Many Many Launches

Rocket Lab “It’s Business Time” launch window opens on November 11 local time and runs through November 19.  The first operational launch for Rocket Lab marks what it calls “high frequency” operations, with a second launch for NASA scheduled in December.  Six satellites are onboard on “It’s Business Time,” including cubesats from Spire Global, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems (A division of Terran Orbital, Fleet Space Technologies, and the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program, plus a drag sail tech demonstrator built by HPS GmbH.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch Es’hail 2, a Qatar communications satellite, November 14 on a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral.

From NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the NG-10 space station supply launch is scheduled to take place early in the morning of November 15. This will be the first launch of the Antares and Cygnus since OrbitalATK merged with Northrup Grumman.  Cygnus typically carries satellites to the International Space Station for release in orbit and has the capability to release cubesats on its own once it has completed its primary cargo delivery mission and departs the space station. No word yet on what small satellites Cygnus might be carrying either internally or externally for the NG-10 mission.

A few days later, SpaceX will launch the Spaceflight-chartered SSO-A rideshare mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.  SSO-A will carry over 70 small satellites into orbit, with passengers including IoT firms Astrocast, Helios Wire, Hiber Global, Fleet Space, Kepler Communications. Planet has a pair of high-resolution SkySats plus several Doves onboard and it will also market the first flights for HawkEye 360’s RF monitoring satellites and Capella Space’s first radar imaging satellite.

Firms also booked rides onboard the November 27 India PSLV launch, with over 30 plus satellites on board, including Hiber and Fleet.

Fleet appears to win the trifecta for November launch, with satellites onboard SSO-A, PSLV, and “It’s Business Time.”  The Rocket Lab booking is particularly noteworthy since Fleet had to quickly build a pair of 1.5U cubesats once it found out there was space available onboard the flight.

China may have some commercial-applicable launch activities as well in November.

FCC Satellite Rulings

The FCC Open Commission meeting on November 15 is almost all about satellites.  Up front are Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for updating rules on orbital debris mitigation and facilitating satellite earth stations while in motion – a big deal for non-geostationary-orbit constellations – authorization for SpaceX to deploy a V-band satellite network to complement its Ka/Ku-band plans, requests for Kepler Communications, LeoSat and Telesat to be granted permission to operate in the U.S. market, and streamlining of satellite and earth station regulations.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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