Monday, April 17, 2017

An Update on NS Rockets, Intelsat Hunting for Canadian Gov't Satellite Contracts & More Ukrainian Lybid News

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of April 17th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

  • The CBC seems to be fascinated by Maritime Launch Services (MLS) and it's so far unfunded effort to place a Ukrainian built Cyclone-4M commercial rocket launching facility in Nova Scotia.
As outlined in the April 11th, 2017 CBC News post, "It is rocket science: New details revealed about proposed space port in Nova Scotia," the company "with plans to launch rockets from Nova Scotia has applied to lease 15 hectares of provincially owned land outside Canso, according to documents obtained by CBC News."
Evidently, the "272-tonne rockets will be constructed in Ukraine," then "loaded aboard a RoRo (Roll-On, Roll-Off) vessel and carried across the North Atlantic for delivery to the Port of Mulgrave and then barged to the Port of Canso as regulated by Transport Canada marine security requirement."
Others have reacted more cautiously. 
As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 Herald chronicle post, "Spaceport project hinges on moose count," the project still needs to show it can be built in compliance with local laws and requirements. 
An MLS Industry Day Meeting is planned for April 27th, 2017 in Antigonish, NS and will include a presentation by MLS president Steve Matier plus "invitation-only, one-on-one meetings."
According to the article: 
MLS is continuing to develop relationships with local and regional companies to support their construction and operations plans for the facility with the intention to hire locally as much as possible.
As outlined in the September 11th, 2016 post, February 6th, 2017 post, "Europe Will Fund the Prometheus Reusable Engine; Canada Pitched Cyclone-4's," MLS is essentially acting as a local agent for Ukrainian based Yuzhnoye, which designed the rocket originally for Brazil and needs at least $100Mln CDN to fund any NS based facility. 
MLS CEO John Isella even continues to work out of the Washington, DC Yuzhnoye office, where he also acts as the North American representative for Yuzhnoye business development.
It's worth noting that some space focused sites, like the Canadian based and the international focused Space Daily, pass off press releases as original news. An example would be the March 29th, 2017 Intelsat General promotional post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help,” seen here beside the identical April 13th, 2017 Space Daily editorial post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: "We're Here, and We can Help."" Graphic c/o Satcom Frontier & Space Daily. 
The new project is a replacement for the Canadian civilian/military hybrid Polar Communications & Weather (PCW) satellite constellation which, as outlined in the July 17,th 2016 post, "The Polar Communications & Weather Satellite (PCW) Mission is Dead; To Revive it, our Military Wants More Money," was cancelled last year and replaced with a international, military focused program.
The budget for the ESC program is estimated at up to $2.4Bln CDN.
As outlined in the March 14th 2017 Defense Watch post, "Canada talking to US, Norway and Denmark about footing bill for new Arctic military satellite," a contract is currently scheduled to be awarded in 2020 and the spacecraft could be launched as early as 2024.
The core of the Intesat strategy is outlined in the March 29th, 2017 SATCOM Frontier post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help." SATCOM Frontier is part of the marketing arm of the US subsidiary of Intelsat. 
The potential for large, foreign firms to bid on large Canadian government satellite contracts was first raised in the January 31st, 2017 post, "Satellite Servicing, Orbital ATK, MDA, "Security Control Agreements," CETA, Minister Duncan's Science Adviser & Nova Scotia Spaceports."
The 1845 kg Lybid-1 communications satellite. Graphic c/o Kyiv Post.
  • The Ukrainian state news agency Interfax-Ukraine is again reporting that the "first Ukrainian telecommunications satellite," could finally be placed into orbit in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Lybid-1 was built by Richmond, BC based Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) under contract to the State Space Agency of the Ukraine (SSAU) using an ISS-Reshetnev developed Ekspress-1000 bus and an MDA developed communications payload.
As outlined in the December 9th, 2016 Interfax Ukraine post, "SSAU seeks to prepare for launch of first Ukrainian satellite Lybid in 2017," the Canadian Export Development Canada (EDC), provided a $254.6Mln CDN loan under "Ukrainian government guarantees to finance the project in the summer of 2009. Initially it was planned to put the Ukrainian satellite into orbit in 2012, later it was postponed to 2013 and then to April 2014," when the November 2013 Ukrainian crisis erupted and launch plans were shelved. 
As outlined in the April 12th, 2017 Interfax-Ukraine post, "Ukrainian satellite Lybid could be launched by late 2017 – acting SSAU head," the latest report originates with the "acting head" of the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU), Yuriy Radchenko, who said that an additional $17Mln US ($23Mln CDN) had been committed by Ukraine in order to complete the project.
As outlined originally in the December 12th, 2016 post, "exactEarth, Lybid-1, the CSA (which Needs more Committees) and the Upcoming 2017 Earth Observation Summit," the completed Lybid-1 satellite is still being stored at Reshetnev in Krasnoyarsk (Russia), while the "Canadian partner is holding talks with Russia to get guarantees to launch the satellite" sometime in 2017." 
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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