Low Earth Orbit satellite firm OneWeb is testing a prototype for its next generation of satellites. The company has also signed a new distribution deal with iSAT Africa.

Last week, the company said it would soon be launching another 15 satellites to orbit alongside a demonstration satellite called ‘JoeySat’.

oneweb joeysat.jpg
– OneWeb

“JoeySat incorporates several features set to be included in OneWeb’s next generation of satellites, including technology that will allow satellites to switch between different places on Earth and adjust the strength of communications signals based on customer needs or demand [aka beam-hopping],” the company said on LinkedIn. The company currently has around 618 satellites in operation.

SatixFy built the payload which is part of the Sunrise Partnership Project with the European Space Agency.

The satellite firm has also signed a new distribution deal with communications services provider iSat Africa to provide broadband connectivity throughout the Central, Western, and Eastern Africa markets.

Stephen Beynon, CCO of OneWeb, said: “This new partnership presents us with the opportunity to bring connectivity to people, businesses, and governments across Africa. iSAT Africa has laid the groundwork in getting many people connected, and they are well positioned to expand their network and geographical reach with the enterprise-grade service and product portfolio of OneWeb."

Rakesh Kukreja, CEO and MD of iSAT Africa, added: “We are thrilled to partner with OneWeb to bring reliable and high-speed broadband connections to underserved areas in Africa. This partnership is a big step towards closing the digital divide and giving people and businesses all over Africa more power."

Wholesale-focused OneWeb, currently undergoing a merger with Eutelsat, has signed distribution agreements with more than two dozen firms globally, including Airtel, Paratus, and Q-Kon in Africa.

Starlink conducts trials with Virgin Media O2, signs reseller deal with Azercosmos

Starlink, meanwhile, has been conducting rural connectivity trials in the UK with Virgin Media O2 and Wavemobile. The companies recently completed a rural trial at the South Stack Lighthouse in Wales using a Cellxica-made modem. It is the first time Virgin Media O2 has said it is working with Starlink.

SpaceX’s satellite firm has also signed a deal with Azercosmos to see the Azerbaijani space agency become a Starlink broadband reseller in the country.

Private airline provider JSX has completed the installation of Starlink systems on its fleet of 40 Embraer jets.

In other recent satellite news:

- High-altitude pseudo satellite firm Avealto is patterning with Electric Sky to use Whisper Beam wireless transmissions to power its platforms at latitudes where solar power is less feasible. El-Sky's Whisper Beam system uses a ground array to transmit radio waves straight up to altitudes of 20 km/65,000 feet, where a receiver converts the waves to electricity. Founded in 2013, Avealto is developing high-altitude airships to provide connectivity to remote regions – the platform will reportedly draw as much as 60kW.

- AT&T and AST SpaceMobile have filed with the FCC for permission to allow the latter to lease the former’s low-band spectrum to enable direct-to-cell satellite services in the US.

- Advent International closed its acquisition of satellite builder Maxar Technologies for $6.4 billion and has taken the company private.

- The 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS) recently confirmed the breakup of Orbcomm FM 36. Launched in 1999, the LEO satellite weighed around 45kg and broke up in early March. 18 SDS is tracking 7 associated pieces at an estimated 792 km altitude.

- Intelsat is to lease more capacity from Hispasat’s Amazonas Nexus satellite. Intelsat will lease the satellite's total capacity available over the United States and Brazil, as well as a ‘significant part’ of the unit’s capacity over the North Atlantic corridor. Intelsat previously signed a deal to lease part of Amazonas Nexus’ capacity in 2019 ahead of its launch earlier this year.

- Argentinian satellite services firm is investing $20 million to lease capacity on SES’ KA-band SES-17 satellite to provide broadband across the country and parts of Chile.

- Sidus Space has selected Atlas Space Operations to expand its ground station services. Sidus will use the ground station-as-a-Service provider to expand the ground network for its LizzieSat constellation.

- L3Harris Technologies has won a $275.2 million contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue providing ground services for the agency’s geostationary weather satellites. Having managed the contract since 2009, the extension runs until 2028.

- Nanosat builder & operator EnduroSat has raised $10 million in a Series A investment round. The round was led by Ceecat Capital with additional funding from Freigeist Capital.

- Intelsat aims to inaugurate a new Brazilian teleport in Rio de Janeiro in late Q3 or early Q4, the company told BNAmericas.

- SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT have partnered to develop new ground stations to provide tracking & control services to the Japanese space agency JAXA and other Japanese governmental organizations.