Friday, July 21, 2017

Hytera Communications Expelled From China Based Trade Association Over "Disputed Bidding"

          By Chuck Black

Canada's Globe and Mail is reporting a new ripple in the ongoing takeover of Vancouver-based Norsat International, the Canadian high technology satellite communications company acquired in June 2017 by Chinese based Hytera Communications.

Hytera chairman, and principal shareholder, Chen Qingzhou.  Photo c/o Hytera.

As outlined in the July 21st, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Chinese firm expelled from trade association days before takeover of Canadian high-tech company," Hytera was expelled from a mobile-technology trade association run by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security for its involvement in the disputed bidding on a Chinese police contract, "just days before it closed a deal to buy Vancouver-based Norsat International."

According to the article, "the expulsion is unrelated to the takeover of the Canadian satellite communications company, but critics say Hytera’s past connections to Chinese security authorities and its questionable business dealings should have raised red flags in Ottawa."

As of publication, the details of Hytera’s expulsion from China’s Professional Digital Trunking (PDT) alliance remains shrouded in mystery. According to the Globe and Mail account, "it is unknown whether Mr. Chen, (Hytera chairman, and principal shareholder Chen Quinzhou) who has traveled on trade missions with the Chinese President, has run into trouble with the Communist Party, which has recently detained several billionaire businessmen and top party officials over alleged corruption and bribery."

This blog will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Norsat sale to Hytera in June 2017 without conducting a full-scale national security review.

However, and as outlined in the July 6th, 2017 post, "Avoiding "Norsat Like Uncertainty" by Allowing the Chinese to More Easily Buy Advanced Canadian Companies," the US government has announced a review of the purchase. The US military has contracts to buy satellite communications equipment from Norsat and that technology will now be transferred to China.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

2017 NewSpace Global SmallSat Report is Now Available

          By Henry Stewart

There are a lot of space reports on the market. These include the annual Space Report Online (with "eleven years of data, resources and information on the worldwide space industry" collected by the Space Foundation, a US based charity) and the Annual Space Security Index, a "comprehensive, and integrated assessment of space security."

An overview of the 2017 NewSpace Global Smallsat Report. Graphic c/o NSG.

But, at least from a business perspective, one of the best resources is the annual NewSpace Global SmallSat Report. As outlined in the July 17th, 2017 press release, "The 2017 NewSpace Global SmallSat Report is now available" the newest report is now online.

The report highlights NSG's ability to combine historical analysis with accurate market and industry forecasting around the small-sat sector. The report also provides and overview of the ancillary companies and markets positioning themselves to profit from the expected growth in the smallsat sector over the next few years.

It also examines the increasingly important surge in dedicated small-sat vehicles seeking to capture global launch demand and assesses the importance of key events such as the potential broadband internet "mega-constellations" of SpaceX, OneWeb and Boeing; Softbank's $1.2Bln cash injection; and the general climate for private investment activity and M&A.

The report is designed to provide information on SmallSats that have been launched and are planned to be launched, analysis of the applications and sizes of various payloads, trends in capitalization and investment, and will answer questions such as:
  • Who are the fastest growing start-ups?
  • What is the market size?
  • How many SmallSats have been launched to date? What are trends with respect to the geography, entity type, time, size, and application? What are the 5-year projections?
  • Who are the top players in the industry?
  • What are the investment trends in SmallSat manufacturers and investors by geography and time?
  • How many SmallSats are launched by launch vehicle type and provider and geography? What are the trends?
  • What are the trends with respect to the 6th Vertical (In Space services)? Who are the players? What are the projections and analysis on growth in this evolving vertical?
The report has two components:
  • The Data Dive: a database of all SmallSats covered in the report as raw data designed to provide the user with a powerful tool to draw your own conclusions.
  • The Analysis Guide: select insights and data visualization based on the data collected.
Complete subscribers may access the Report on the NSG Deep Dive page. Core subscriber interested in obtaining this report, you can contact NSG at to request access. 
Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Selling CDN Space Companies to the US & China, Luxembourg's Evolving Space Mining Policy & NORsat 1 & 2

          By Henry Stewart

While many gainfully employed, academically inclined or politically motivated Canadian space geeks are soaking up the sun at one of  the many beaches accessible via train, plane and automobile, that's not necessarily true for all, especially if you're working in Washington, DC and intent on negotiating a new free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico.

Given that, and for the week of July 17th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

Then Industry Minister James More announcing the first Space Advisory Board (SAB) in 2014.  As outlined in the November 19th, 2014 post, "Industry Minister Moore Announces Space Advisory Board Members," the original members of the SAB included Colonel Chris Hadfield, retired general and former CSA president Walt Natynczyk and a number of other, very memorable participants in the Canadian space community. But they came up with nothing, and it looks like the present membership of the SAB, is well on its way to similar success. Photo c/o Chuck Black

  • It's just gotta be a damn shame for the Canadian space industry if the only real question which comes out of the recent Space Advisory Board (SAB) series of meeting, held across Canada from April 19th to May 20th, 2017 and including over 130+ participants from all regions and space industry specialties, is whether we should sell our small Canadian based companies only to the Americans or if we can also sell them to the Europeans and the Chinese. 
But that seems to be the core take away if one focuses only on current media accounts. For example:
The article also compares the Canadian initiatives with China to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which, as outlined in the January 31th, 2017 post, "Satellite Servicing, Orbital ATK, MDA, "Security Control Agreements," CETA, Minister Duncan's Science Adviser & Nova Scotia Spaceports," the Trudeau government signed off on earlier this year.   
Given that the SpaceQ website, once known as, has been both an important, ongoing advocate for Federal Liberal Party policies in this area and also a strong advocate for the SAB, the current article suggests a growing rank and file impatience with official Liberal policy under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
For an overview of those issues, check out the July 6th, 2017 post, "Avoiding "Norsat Like Uncertainty" by Allowing the Chinese to More Easily Buy Advanced Canadian Companies." 
  • Other media outlets, including this blog, which have objected to some of the machinations employed by Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) in order to gain access to lucrative US government and military contracts. 
For the most recent update on those activities, it's worth checking out the July 17th, 2017 post, "Orbital ATK, DARPA, MacDonald Dettwiler, DigitalGlobe & Unleashing the Lobbyists."
It's not that the Canadian space industry should avoid the sensible discussion of logical places for hard working founders to cash out their investments.
But we certainly shouldn't focus exclusively on selling off small innovative companies to foreign firms if we can instead build the infrastructure needed to support them as growing Canadian owned companies.
An English translation of the July 13th, 2017 Space Resources LU "Draft Law on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources." Graphic c/o Space Resources LU.

  • Speaking of space advisory boards, the Luxembourg Parliament has released a draft law on the exploration and use of space resources.
As outlined in the July 13th, 2017 Space Resources LU post, "Luxembourg is the First Nation to Offer a Legal Framework for Space Resources Utilization,"  the new document "is a key action of an overall strategy to be implemented by the Luxembourg government within the initiative whose goal is to support the long-term economic development of new, innovative activities in the space industry." 
The post also quotes Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy √Čtienne Schneider as stating that, "Luxembourg is the first adopter in Europe of a legal and regulatory framework recognizing that space resources are capable of being owned by private companies." 
According to Schneider, "the Grand Duchy thus reinforces its position as a European hub for the exploration and use of space resources. The legal framework is part of the expertise ecosystem and the business-friendly, innovation-nurturing environment that Luxembourg is offering to space industry companies. By adopting almost unanimously the respective draft law, the Luxembourg Parliament confirmed the strong political cross-party and national commitment to the initiative." 
Luxembourg also continues to promote international cooperation in order to progress on a future governance scheme and a global regulatory framework of space resources utilization. Examples include "a joint statement on future activities concerning missions to the asteroids, related technologies and space resources exploration and utilization with the European Space Agency (ESA)."
Is the Canadian Space Advisory Board listening and willing to learn? If so, there is much they could learn from Luxembourg.

Norsat-1 graphic showing major components. Both Norsat-1 and 2 utilize the UTIAS SFL "Nemo" next generation satellite bus, which offers fine attitude control, high power generation, and high down-link rates. The satellite are approximately 15 kilograms with main body dimensions of 20x30x40cm, but vary slightly in specific configuration due to payload. Graphic c/o UTIAS-SFL.

As outlined in the July 14th, 2017 UTIAS SFL press release, "Norway Successfully Launches Microsatellites built by Toronto's Space Flight Laboratory," the two Norwegian micro-satellites, NORsat-1 (which carries a state-of-the-art automatic identification system (AIS) receiver to track maritime vessels, a set of langmuir probes to study space plasma characteristics, and a compact lightweight absolute radiometer (CLARA) to measure total solar irradiation and variations over time) and NORsat-2 (with a second AIS receiver and a VHF data exchange (VDE) payload to enable higher bandwidth two-way communication with ships.) , were "developed and built by SFL for the Norwegian Space Centre with support from the Norwegian Coastal Authority, Space Norway, and the European Space Agency (ESA)
The payloads were provided by Kongsberg Seatex, the University of Oslo and the Physikalisch-Meterologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Center.
As outlined in the July 14th, 2017 ESA post, "Norway Launches Advanced Satellite-AIS Payloads to Improve Maritime Shipping Coverage," the new satellites are expected to be able to detect 90% of all vessels in Barents Sea and Svalbard in a single pass.
Perhaps the Great White North still retains at least some expertise in space. At least our universities remain able to contribute effectively to international projects.
For more, check out upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Support our Patreon Page