Although the technology driving in-orbit satellite servicing has existed for decades, only now has the market evolved to a point where it is economically feasible as a business. According to a panel of experts at a Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR) discussion on Feb. 12, the convergence of lower launch costs and shifting priorities for Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite operators has made the idea of in-orbit servicing more commercially viable than in past years.
Tim Deaver, vice president of development for SES Government Solutions, pointed to the dropping cost of satellite capacity as a critical element of the shift. As the industry experiences a downturn in the price of bandwidth (and thus, the revenue any one satellite generates), operators are brainstorming new ways to make the most out of their aging assets, he said.
The panelists agreed this is particularly true for operators that own a limited number of satellites critical to their businesses. Company leaders are seeking new, more creative paths to extend their growth trajectories and, in the process, are softening their traditionally risk-averse postures, said Joe Anderson, director of mission extension vehicle services at Orbital ATK.
This changing mindset coincides with the efforts of new-age launch providers such as SpaceX, which have come a long way in making launch costs cheaper for their customers. “As we see the cost come down for launch, we see the cost coming down for refueling capability. The two points cross and you can make economic sense out of it,” Deaver said.
The proposition seems to be most valuable and attractive to operators of GEO satellites. Such spacecraft are among the most expensive to manufacture and launch, but the majority are also able to operate well beyond their 15-year design lives. The only reason they are usually decommissioned, said Anderson, is because they run out of fuel. If refueling is an option — and if it’s both safe and reasonably priced — then it’s financially sound to squeeze a bit more revenue out of the asset.
It’s true that NASA has been working on technology relevant to such services for quite some time. Already the International Space Station (ISS) uses robotics operations nearly every day to maintain its external payload attachments. Both Commercial Resupply Missions (CRS) 10 and 13 had scientific payloads that were unpacked from the Dragon trunk using robotics, said Al Tadros, SSL’s vice president of space infrastructure and civil space.
That said, other technological elements have also matured to make on-orbit servicing spacecraft safer, cheaper, faster, and therefore more realistic. One example Tadros highlighted is solar electric propulsion, which is now emerging into mainstream satellite buses and provides improved “efficiency for transferring between satellites.” Solar electric propulsion also uses 10 times less propellant than comparable chemical propulsion systems, according to NASA.
But because this market is still so nascent, companies that are currently building on-orbit servicing spacecraft are limiting their missions to relatively simple tasks such as refueling. Currently, Orbital ATK’s refueling spacecraft is compatible with about 80 percent of satellites operating in GEO, Anderson said. It will take time, though, before the company can do more than just that. “Satellites that are there today aren’t enabled for a whole lot of repair missions,” he admitted.
But in the future, as manufacturers begin to build their satellites with servicing in mind, a wider variety of missions will arise. “Even [for] simple things like [rescuing] spacecraft launched to the incorrect orbit — there are opportunities there when errors happen,” said Todd Master, program master of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office.
Tadros predicts that eventually the industry will launch satellites that are “payload agnostic,” centered around a standardized form factor. “If you can actually start deploying payloads and adding to on-orbit satellites right now, [there’s] huge potential,” Tadros said. “It’s so attractive it could become one of the … fastest growing parts of satellite servicing.”
In the meantime, Master recommended that commercial and government entities come together to establish better standards and ensure they aren’t “jeopardizing this infant industry.” Anderson warned, however, that such regulations should be developed carefully and incrementally. “Just because we can add an extra regulation doesn’t mean we should,” he said.
The Antenna Systems Division (ASD) of Communications & Power Industries (CPI) has introduced a GSA-39KaXY ground antenna providing the high pointing accuracy and reliability to support High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) applications, the company stated.
Operating at lower altitudes than satellites, HAPS can be less expensive to operate and more rapidly deployed, making them ideal for shorter-term usage, such as to support emergency communications during regional disaster relief efforts. CPI’s new antenna is designed to meet the needs of HAPS providers, which require a reliable high-performance antenna to provide connectivity to disaster recovery and digital inclusion applications.
CPI’s Ka-band antenna is designed to operate in open air, rather than ensconced in a radome, with a range of reflectors from 0.90 to 1.5-meter in size, and using PC-based control with a P700 ACU. The motorized pedestal provides high-output torque with ultra-low backlash through use of two-stage reduction gearboxes and brushless DC motors. For added reliability, the pedestal is designed with servo amplifiers that offer protection for over-current, voltage and temperature. CPI also offers a range of mounting options for integration of customer-provided RF elements on the pedestal.
SatADSL, a provider of Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services via satellite, announced a new service for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) which will enable them to deliver satellite-based connectivity without investment in physical infrastructure. Using SatADSL’s multi-band Cloud-based Service Delivery Platform (C-SDP), the solution allows MNOs to outsource their satellite services by providing a complete Operations and Business Support System (OSS/BSS) platform. Initially, the offering will target MNOs in Africa, where terrestrial infrastructure remains limited due to vast rural areas.
Operating on Ka-, Ku- or C-band, the C-SDP includes a network management system that allows IP traffic to be shaped and routed from and to different hubs, and an in-built customer management tool enabling MNOs to manage and monitor their own customers. A hotspot management system allows MNOs to configure, manage and monitor remote hotspot networks through the cloud, while a billing system enables online payments and automatic billing, the company stated.
“Satellite is a crucial tool for MNOs looking to serve new markets and launch additional revenue-generating services, such as business-to-business applications,” said Michel Dothey, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and co-founder of SatADSL. “While high investment costs, the risk of vendor lock-in and the uncertainty of the satellite market put many MNOs off investing in their own satellite infrastructure in the past, this new innovative solution mitigates these drawbacks.”
PyeongChang is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics between Feb. 9 and Feb. 25. Photo: Flickr/Republic of Korea.
NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, has selected SES to provide 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) satellite distribution for its production of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which are currently taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea. SES is using its satellite platform to distribute the NBC Olympics HDR feed to their affiliates throughout the United States, using the SES 1 satellite located at 101 degrees west. As part of the implementation, SES has provided preconfigured satellite receivers to the affiliates that will be receiving the HDR feed.
NBC Olympics will distribute 4K HDR coverage provided by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and Japan’s NHK to U.S. distribution partners who will individually choose how they will make the content available to their customers.
NBC’s 4K HDR coverage of the PyeongChang games will be made available on delay, and will include 4K footage from the opening ceremony, hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, ski jumping, and snowboard big air competitions. Up to four events from the previous day’s competition will be provided daily from Feb. 10, the day after the opening ceremony, through Feb. 26, the day after the games conclude.
Satcube Ku deployed, ready for operation next to a boarding pass and passport for scale. Photo: STS Global.
STS Global announced a new partnership with the Swedish satellite company Satcube. Under this agreement, STS Global will promote and distribute the company’s Satcube Ku satellite terminal product in the United States. This partnership comes after successful testing of the terminal in November 2017, during which the lightweight terminal delivered a throughput of 10 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream via the Intelsat Epic 29e satellite.
According to Satcube, the terminal is optimized for use with High Throughput Satellites (HTS). With a compact form factor, the terminal fits into approved cabin baggage and weighs only 8 kg (15.4 lbs).
Unveiled for the first time last September, the terminal is Satcube’s first commercial product. It boasts a three-hour transmit time, optional hot-swappable batteries, an iDirect or UHP Networks modem, Wi-Fi, a flat antenna, an amplifier (high efficiency GaN SSPA), positioning system, upconverter, downconverter, and a heat pipe cooling system.
While Musk takes a lot of credit for his vision, in Shotwell he found the perfect executive to run SpaceX like a finely oiled machine. She is one of the most admired and respected executives in our industry, and an inspiration for young women around the world.
It is 9:30 a.m. on a ranch in Texas, and we are talking to the 30th Via Satellite Executive of the Year, Gwynne Shotwell about everything from her history at SpaceX, her relationship with its founder and CEO, Elon Musk — the man she still calls “the boss” — and what it means for her to be the recipient of our award in its 30-year anniversary. Shotwell talks honestly, will answer the tough questions, and you feel like it is a genuine conversation, rather than a series of scripted answers that have gone through an entire communications department before you are allowed to be on the phone.
We know SpaceX is a great company. We know they are the “cool kids” of space right now and, while Elon Musk obviously takes a lot of credit for his vision and bravery to come up with SpaceX, in Shotwell he found the perfect executive to run it like a finely oiled machine. In 2016, SpaceX suffered a huge setback when a high-profile test failure led to the loss of the Spacecom satellite Amos 6, making headlines across the world. It is said we learn more about ourselves when we deal with adversity, and this would be the case with Shotwell and SpaceX. She fronted up, and led the team back from this demoralizing setback to unprecedented heights in 2017. She is one of the most admired and respected executives in our industry, and an inspiration for young women around the world. When it came to selecting our 30th Satellite Executive of the Year, there was really only one choice this time around, SpaceX President and COO, Gwynne Shotwell is our Satellite Executive of the Year 2017.
VIA SATELLITE: What do you see as SpaceX’s greatest accomplishment in 2017?
Shotwell: Pulling off 18 launches and hitting our stride after Flight 29 on Sept. 1 (Amos 6) was key. Recovery from failure is always hard but the worst kind of failure you can have for a launch services provider is when you are on the pad: you lose one of the assets that allows you to launch. So, we got 39A up and running; we got pad 40 operational last year and upgraded our Vandenberg pad in California as well.
Recovery was also an extraordinary accomplishment last year. Frankly, I didn’t think we would do as well as we did. I think I predicted we would refly at least one. But, reflying five last year successfully was a great accomplishment for us, as well as the overall industry. I think it is really going to open peoples’ eyes in terms of a new way of thinking. The market acceptance of flight-proven capability far exceeded what I thought we could achieve this year. I believe half of our flights in 2018 will be on flight-proven vehicles, which is a testament to the engineering and production teams of SpaceX, and our ability to prepare these vehicles for a second flight. It is a pretty significant mindset change in our industry — a revolutionary change. I applaud all our customers for looking at this carefully and agreeing with us, that this is the right way to go.
VIA SATELLITE:Even in SpaceX’s history, did 2017 feel like the start of a new chapter for the company?
Shotwell: Absolutely. We finally hit our stride in 2017. You will see an uptick this year in the cadence of launch. Last year was the year that we demonstrated what we said we would do from a production and launch capability.
VIA SATELLITE: SpaceX launched at an incredible pace in 2017: 18 successful missions, more than one per month, and three alone in the month of June. You’ve recently stated that you aim to increase your cadence by 50 percent in 2018. How do you manage a workload at a pace that’s never been managed before?
Shotwell: It is not magic, but it wasn’t easy. We demonstrated, I believe it was in 2014, that we could launch satellites back to back in around 11 days. What we needed to make sure is that we could produce the vehicles at that kind of pace, and keep it up, which is what we did last year. Our launch team worked their butts off, and they will do it again this year. But, the key was we hit our stride on our production side.
What lightens the production burden this year to increase our pace is the use of flight-proven vehicles. We have 26-30 flights in 2018, but around half of those will be flight proven. With the flight proven missions, this cadence requires a production rate of what we have demonstrated already. At least for first stage. We will increase cadence for second stages and fairings.
VIA SATELLITE: How do you, as an executive, approach your launch crew and work them even harder? How do you implement to make sure you maintain that successful launch streak?
Shotwell: 39A was a new pad for us. We rolled in capabilities and upgrades we had learned over time at launch complex 40 to make things easier and smoother. It was the same with the pad 40 rebuild and Vandenberg upgrade — both now operational. We have developed capability and technology on the pads that allow things to go faster and more smoothly. Fundamentally, everyone at SpaceX works really hard. It is part of the genetics of the company and it is part of the energy that we have at SpaceX. I think increasing our cadence should not feel like 50 percent more work for our launch team because we have gotten smarter on the operations side and the vehicle upgrades were intended to make them easier to process. We are flying block 4 now, and we are currently producing our block 5 rocket. Every time we upgrade the rocket, we upgrade it for reliability improvements, ease of manufacture, and operability. So, each upgrade makes it easier on my production team and my launch team to process these rockets, and to get them flown. So, hopefully, it is not 50 percent more work for them. We have three operational pads now, so that does allow people to use their time very effectively. Let’s talk at the end of 2018, and I will ask my launch crews whether it was 50 percent more work. I am betting it will not be.
VIA SATELLITE: 2016, as we know, had been a turbulent year for SpaceX. What were the lessons learned from the failed Eutelsat/Facebook satellite? How did you change things as you entered in to 2017?
Shotwell: We better understand the behavior of our pressure vessels. We call them Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessels (COPVs). Basically, they are helium pressurant bottles, which keep the propellants in the rocket in the right place. We almost had a Goldilocks situation with those bottles on Flight 29 static fire. A number of things had to be exactly right or, you could say, exactly wrong. We learned a lot about our COPVs, which is key to success going forward.
Everybody should learn from failure, and we have done that, although, obviously, we would prefer not to have failures. We have become a lot more cognizant of the impact of any small change that we make — we have always been mindful of the medium and big changes — and ensure all are thoroughly vetted. We have the recipe right now. We launched 18 times last year. We landed every rocket we set out to. But even though we have the recipe for launch and landing, and for refurbishing and relaunching, I don’t want to say we will never change again.
I think this is one of the reasons why this industry finds it difficult to support innovation, because everyone is afraid to support changes once they have the right recipe. I think it is dangerous for any industry to say that we shouldn’t change. I think that is when your company starts to die. When you say “I can’t make things better, I can’t make things faster, I can’t make things less expensive,” then you are on your death path.
VIA SATELLITE: Was there a more intense period of change as a result of what happened?
Shotwell: The intensity of change that we had in 2017 was driven more by what we were doing in Block 5 Falcon 9 design. This design is the most reliable design to date. It is meant to meet the crew requirements for our participation in NASA’s commercial crew program and to meet all the reliability requirements for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. That is the U.S. Air Force program to launch many national security space missions. So, the Block 5 design is very reliable; it is also highly manufacturable, and what is key is that it is highly reusable. Very little refurbishment will be needed in a Block 5 vehicle in order to refly them. I think the intense change was driven by the need to get to this final Falcon 9 design done to support crew and national security space.
VIA SATELLITE: Your company is the pioneer of reusable rocket technology and, earlier in 2017 you became the first to successfully launch with reused hardware. SpaceX has more than a few “firsts” under its belt. What do you feel is the most significant challenge associated with being the first to do anything in the launch market?
Shotwell: It is hard being the first. We have to forge the path and be the first to demonstrate what can be done. So, when others come behind us, they almost get a free pass at on what can be done reliably. They still have to do some really good engineering work, though.
My engineers can’t look at a problem and say “this is impossible.” Elon sets the vision, and it always seems hard and daunting. The engineers then put their heads down, and go and achieve what we set out. Production teams work out how to build these things continuously faster so we never delay a launch due to production. Then, the part of the organization that works with customers has to convince them of the reliability.
The engineering is hard. The work the support teams do that make it a reality is hard. And then convincing/demonstrating to customers, as well as all the authority organizations like the FAA, is also hard. There really is nothing easy about it. Yes, it is hard. It is harder to be first. But, it is so much more rewarding to be the ground breaker and change the world. I think this energizes our employee base pretty dramatically. I think they like and are willing to do the extra work to get there first.
VIA SATELLITE: It is even harder for a private company to be a first since funding is difficult to obtain, for example.
Shotwell: I think even government programs don’t have unlimited resources. But, the tight resource availability does make things challenging. On the other hand, it adds to the challenge, and frankly it drives us to be more efficient. I definitely don’t think it is a bad thing to be constrained on resources and time. It drives innovation rapidly and efficiently. I don’t think all the money in the world comes up with the best engineering solutions.
Shotwell: The national security space market has dropped as well. United Launch Alliance (ULA) has gotten orders from this community, up to 12 a year in the past but, going forward, it looks as though that market will be five or six per year.
We are winning, though. We won two GPS missions last year which was a huge accomplishment for the company. That was a big turning point for SpaceX, to be acknowledged as a reliable provider by the U.S. Air Force. That was great for the company and great for the country as well. The GPS missions were reported to be 30-40 percent cheaper from SpaceX than our competitor ULA in that field. That means the government saved up to $60 million each time, which is a lot of money to save. Now is not a time to be inefficient with public dollars, so we are quite proud of winning those deals and decreasing military expenditures for space launch. I am sure our take-up on winning will increase. Hopefully the market will also increase there as well.
VIA SATELLITE: How difficult/important was it to get contracts with the U.S. Air Force?
Shotwell: Our launch success was certainly helpful to that. The Air Force has been working since 2011 on how to bring a new entrant to an established national security space program. So, it was really working closely with the Air Force to ensure the criteria they used was fair, and that the new entrants were not overburdened with more requirements.
ULA did not have to get certified with their rockets. They will have to with the Vulcan, if they move forward with that. But, the Air Force had to figure out the certification process and how do we execute it. It was a lot of work.
There was a clash of cultures, and there will continue to be going forward to some extent. But, there was definitely a will at the very highest levels of the Air Force to bring in new entrants. The existing provider was so expensive; the Air Force knew they had to do something.
Just a hint of competition caused a pretty substantial drop in prices for the U.S. Air Force from ULA. So, even if we are not winning every contract, we are still helping the tax payer just by being in the arena and competing. We have made ULA think harder, be more efficient and drop their prices.
VIA SATELLITE: I know you have been working on military launch contracts for a while. What was the turning point here? What made a difference about getting these?
Shotwell: Elon is great at managing public expectations. In fact, he was more negative I think for the Falcon Heavy launch than I would have been. But to be clear, we are not going to launch if we think we are going to fail. That is not going to be helpful. But, he was acknowledging the difficulty that we have, not with flying an individual stick of a rocket, but putting three of them together.
Understanding the load going into the structure of the rocket, lighting 27 engines on the pad; there are a lot of unknowns. Hopefully, we have the acoustic model mapped out accurately. We will verify that after we static fire.* We want to make sure that the vehicle isn’t so loud that it shakes the electronics and some other components beyond what they were designed for. That is going to be a large part of the utility of the static fire.* The time that we take between static fire and launch will be to look at the vibration environment, the thermal environment, and make sure our boxes will survive. We will also look at the ground infrastructure where we are holding down those three cores and make sure that when firing 27 engines, the load is carried in that infrastructure the way we anticipate. These are some of the things that we can look at on the ground to help probability of success.
As far as flight, it is all about the separation of those side boosters. Hopefully, we have the aerodynamics modeled correctly and the plume interaction modeled correctly to make this a success. It is going to be quite exciting because two of the boosters are going to come back to land as well. The side boosters will come back to land, and the center core will come back on a drone ship. So, success will be huge on that day. It will remind me of the Orbcomm flight in December 2015. That success was unbelievable. That was our first flight returning from failure. It was a brand-new rocket, an upgraded design, and the first time it landed. The Falcon Heavy will feel like that on steroids.
*Note: This interview was conducted before SpaceX performed its Falcon Heavy static fire test. For updates, visit www.viasatellite.com.
VIA SATELLITE: It’s hard to imagine a rocket with more than twice the carrying capacity as a Delta IV Heavy. How do you manage expectations and execute a project of the scale of Falcon Heavy?
Shotwell: Elon is still very involved. Even though he has a lot going on at Tesla, he is still heavily involved on the development side. His job is set to vision of the technology development — he monitors that very closely. He is there for guidance on the day-to-day side, but my job is really to take care of the day-to-day stuff.
As far as the dynamic, I don’t know if the dynamic has changed in recent years. I have worked with him for so long that I generally understand the way he wants things done, and run the company that way. He is the primary shareholder. He is the chairman of the board and he is my boss. But, I have demonstrated that I have run the day-to-day pretty successfully so that hopefully lightens his burden a little bit.
VIA SATELLITE: What influence would you say Elon has had on you?
Shotwell: I still do learn from Elon. One of the things that you don’t think about because it is so “Apple Pie” is that humans are your greatest resource. Everybody says that but not everybody walks that talk. Elon did teach me that. People need to have comfortable chairs. They need to be able to work in an environment that is inspiring. If you look at some government buildings and some traditional aerospace company buildings, they are dark; they are not pleasant to be in. You want people to feel good about the environment that they work in. Elon drives that consistently. He wants our office spaces to be beautiful because he wants people to feel good working in them. People have to have access all the equipment and software that they need. It does not take six weeks for an employee to get an upgraded computer. That means they are then six weeks behind on the analysis they are supposed to do.
VIA SATELLITE: Where do you see the industry going next?
Shotwell: We will see rapid launch; being able to launch something in less than two years is really important. Our national security customers are looking at how to build capability that we need rapidly — so, months and weeks rather than years. That is something we will see in the next decade. I think the next decade will be extraordinary for our industry. We will see flight-proven vehicles flying more often than those that are not. In the next decade, I think there is a strong chance there will be boots on Mars. Everyone thinks we are crazy with that goal, but we don’t think that is impossible.
VIA SATELLITE: Finally, your reaction to winning the 30th iteration of our SEOTY award?
Shotwell: I was very pleased and surprised when I found out I was the winner. Frankly, I love awards like this because it showcases all the talent that we have working at SpaceX. They get excited when they read these things and their achievements are recognized. From a leadership perspective, receiving an award like this is an honor and it is a nod to the great work our employees are doing. VS
Steve Collar, SES’ new CEO and president. Photo: SES.
SES’ board of directors announced its decision to appoint a new president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) effective April 5. Steve Collar, who is currently CEO of SES Networks, will become the new SES president and CEO, while Andrew Browne, who was until recently CFO of O3b Networks and CFO of SES between 2010 and 2013, has been reappointed as the next SES CFO. Over the coming weeks, they will work closely with Karim Michel Sabbagh, the current president and CEO, and Padraig McCarthy, the current CFO, in order to ensure a smooth handover.
Karim Michel Sabbagh announced during the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) that he would be stepping down from his role to spend more time with his family and pursue new interests. Padraig McCarthy also informed the board of his intention to retire during 2018; he will remain at the disposal of the company thereafter.
The other members of the executive committee, Ferdinand Kayser (CEO, SES Video), Christophe De Hauwer (Chief Strategy and Development Officer), Martin Halliwell (Chief Technology Officer), Evie Roos (Chief Human Resources Officer) and John Purvis (Chief Legal Officer), all remain in place. The company has not yet announced a successor to Steve Collar as CEO of SES Networks.
“I am excited to lead SES into its next phase of development, building on the achievements of 2017 and the foundations that have been laid,” Collar said. “Our focus will be on strong execution in the short term, continuing to roll out differentiated services to our customers, and staying focused on the long term delivery of our forward-looking strategy.”
A selection of the datasets available within EarthCache. Photo: SkyWatch.
SkyWatch Space Application, a Waterloo, Canada-based startup, announced it has raised CA$4 million ($3.2 million) to continue the development of its aggregation and distribution platform for satellite data. SkyWatch’s distribution platform, EarthCache, allows companies to integrate Earth Observation (EO) satellite data into their applications, while empowering satellite operators to efficiently distribute data to new and previously underserved markets. Sinai Ventures and Space Angels led the financing with participation from Golden Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures, SK Ventures, GlobaliveCapital, and ARC Angel Fund.
The fundraising proceeds will be used to add strategic hires, accelerate product development, and build partnerships, the company stated. SkyWatch is currently negotiating distribution rights with more than 30 satellite operators to service customers across agriculture, energy, finance, infrastructure, market intelligence, and other industries.
“Because Earth observation data has the potential to positively impact everyday life in so many ways, everyone should have the ability to easily incorporate this unique data type into their software applications. However, the barriers have been far too high, until now,” saidJames Slifierz, SkyWatch Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder. “SkyWatch was started with this vision and we’ve spent the past three years developing our platform alongside our early adopters. Satellite data integration into any software application is now as easy as payments integration via Stripe, or communications integration via Twilio. We’re excited for the tremendous growth ahead, for both the company and the industry.”
SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Photo: Pixabay.
SpaceX conducted a test fire Sunday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its fourth launch of the year. On Feb 17, the company will orbit the Paz satellite, built by Airbus for Spanish company HisdeSat, as well as the first prototypes for SpaceX’s own broadband constellation, Starlink.
A vessel in Carisbrooke Shipping’s super green fleet. Photo: Carisbrooke Shipping.
Carisbrooke Shipping has selected Marlink Group company Telemar to provide bridge system repair and maintenance services. The new contract further combines Marlink Group capabilities to enhance Carisbrooke Shipping’s operational efficiency and continuity, which is already supported by Marlink’s position as the U.K. headquartered ship management company’s preferred supplier of maritime satcom services.
In addition to 24/7 remote assistance, a dedicated service coordinator and on-board servicing, Carisbrooke Shipping will gain access to a range of Value Added Services (VAS) from Telemar as part of the new contract, including: an online database of spare parts, reports to identify obsolete equipment and breakdown failure rates, and statistics to measure individual engineers’ productivity and success rate.
Carisbrooke Shipping owns and manages its fleet from offices in Cowes, U.K., and Zwijndrecht, Holland. The company has developed a large fleet of fuel-efficient vessels in recent years, which since March 2016 has benefited from new monitoring and remote support capabilities in addition to extended crew communication facilities enabled by Marlink’s Ku-band Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services.