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The annual ‘Big Four’ gathering at the giant Satellite show in Washington (SES’s Romain Bausch, Intelsat’s Dave McGlade, Eutelsat’s Michel de Rosen and Telesat’s Dan Goldberg), delivered some powerful home truths to the industry, with each of them combining to praise the innovation that’s come from Elon Musk and his SpaceX lower-cost rocket venture, and saying the degree of imagination and fresh thinking that’s come from Musk was a benchmark that fellow rocket builders – and satellite suppliers – needed to embrace.
“SpaceX is redefining our industry,” was the message from Baush. “Their industrial process is very different and there must be these changes across the industry.”
Questioned whether the satellite building industry needed an ‘Elon Musk’, the panel wholeheartedly agreed. “We need someone with that entrepreneurial approach and thinking,” said McGlade. Musk has “shaken the launch industry to its very roots and in a very positive way,” according to McGlade.
Eutelsat’s de Rosen added: “Arianespace is certainly challenged and needs to respond to that challenge. They need to do a lot to stay competitive, and I am sure they will do what is needed to give us a launcher that we want to buy. Satellite manufacturers are like us. They respond to us, their customers and to competition.”
Baush said that new satellite applications and business segments were evolving thanks to the growing availability of High Throughput Satellites, such as the SES-backed O3b constellation, which was delivering 1.6GB/s with a latency of just 122 milliseconds and which “represented a huge new opportunity for satellites”. Bausch told the 9,000 delegates that O3b was already being used for on-board connectivity for the Royal Caribbean cruise line aboard its ‘Allure of the Seas’ vessel.