“Where are the orders?” asks VIP satellite panel

As an industry snapshot there’s no better grouping of experts at this year’s Satellite 2018 show in Washington than those representing six major satellite manufacturers.

While a record low number of commercial satellites ordered last year (just 7) would normally have these panellists wringing their hands in despair, the mood was reasonably upbeat. This was helped by a compensating number of business inquiries – and even orders – for MEO and LEO craft, and in some case extremely large numbers.

Richard Ambrose, EVP/space systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, told delegates that in his case it was the combination of Geo/Meo/Leo business that was helping to keep businesses busy.

Dario Zamarian, group president at Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), was happy that his company had won its fair share of orders (not least the giant Jupiter-3 Ultra High Density craft for Hughes Network Systems) that will be marketed as EchoStar-24, and doubles the mount of Hughes’ Ka-band capacity over the Americas.

“We all wish there were more GEOs, but then there’s things like [the mPower satellites] that we were fortunately to partner with next year,” said Chris Johnson, president/Boeing’s space division. The 7 mPower craft will operate at MEO heights for SES Networks and its O3b division.

Orbital-ATK’s Frank Culbertson Jr. (president/space systems) told delegates that some operators were still ordering traditional satellites, but there was a gradual shift taking place towards newer higher-technology satellites.

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