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SSPI’s “Rising Five” new space companies named

The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) named its annual Rising Five, the five New Space Companies in the satellite industry that have made the most substantial progress over the past year. Decided by an international editorial advisory board, the 2017 Rising Five are the Kymeta Corporation, OneWeb, Planet, Spire Global and Virgin Galactic.

“The Rising Five represent the Society’s assessment of the progress made by innovative companies that are raising money, creating new technologies and pioneering new business models in this 60-year-old industry,” said SSPI Chairman Bryan McGuirk, CCO of Globecomm. “With so many new entrants in the market, the question is always who has the right idea, the right financing and the staying power to overcome the hurdles facing any new business and to find sustainable success. Our membership represents companies that know what it takes to succeed in one of the world’s most challenging technologies.”

The 5 named are:

  • Kymeta: launched in 2013 with a $12 millio investment from Bill Gates, Lux Capital and Liberty Global. Early in 2014, the won a $6.2 million engineering contract with Inmarsat to accelerate that company’s product development. Over the next two years, it entered a series of partnerships: with Intelsat for antennas optimized for EpicNG; with Airbus and Intellian to integrate Kymeta technology into maritime antennas; and with Sharp to manufacture Kymeta antennas using glass-on-glass technology pioneered for flat-panel displays.
  • OneWeb emerged in 2014 from WorldVu. The company plans a $3.5 billion LEO constellation of 700 satellites providing broadband connectivity worldwide including support for LTE, 3G and WiFi terminals. It plans to launch its initial 10 satellites in early 2018 and the launch of broadband access in 2019. Now in the process of merging with Intelsat.
  • Planet – Earth Observation Sector. Founded in 2010, the company launched two demonstration cubesats in 2013, when it also announced a plan to loft a constellation of 28 EO satellites. These were deployed from ISS in 2015, when the company also raised $95 million in funding, bringing its total raised to $183 million.
  • Spire Global – Earth Observation Sector. The company was founded in 2012 to create ArduSat, a crowd-funded satellite launched in 2013. From that year through 2015, the company raised $66 million from venture investors. As of 2015, the company had launched four cubesats to conduct space-based experiments. It launched a further 17 through October 2016 through Nanoracks and Orbital’s Cygnus launcher.
  • Virgin Galactic – Launch Sector. Virgin Galactic’s original business plan was for space tourism: suborbital flights to give people an experience of weightlessness aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2015 the company established an R&D and manufacturing centre for LauncherOne in Long Beach, California and it expects to begin test flights in 2017 of an improved launcher with 400 kg capacity. The manufacturing facility has a capacity to produce 20-30 rockets per year with a goal to conduct three missions per month. Virgin Galactic has won a 39-satellite contract from OneWeb, Venture Class Launch Services contract from NASA, and a letter of intent from Millennium Space Systems. It is targeting 2018 for the start of commercial services.

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