Amazon Announces Historic Launch Procurement
On April 5, Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) announced that it selected Arianespace S.A., Blue Origin, LLC and United Launch Alliance, LLC (ULA), under separate contracts, to provide launch services using the Ariane 6, New Glenn and Vulcan Centaur launch vehicles, respectively, for Project Kuiper, Amazon's planned 3,236-satellite low Earth orbit constellation, which will provide broadband Internet services globally. Together, the contracts cover a total of up to 83 launch missions, with a baseline of 38 Vulcan, 18 Ariane 6 and 12 New Glenn launch missions, for an unspecified number of satellites over a period of five years. This represents the largest-ever commercial procurement of launch services. Amazon previously announced that it selected ABL Space Systems Company to launch two Kuiper prototype satellites using the RS1 launch vehicle and ULA to perform nine launch missions for Kuiper using the Atlas V launch vehicle.
Avanti Cuts $550m of Debt Through Equity Swap
On April 13, Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) announced that it reduced its outstanding debt from $810m to $260m after reaching an agreement with investors to exchange debt for equity in the company. As a result, Solus Alternative Asset Management and HPS Investment Partners have become Avanti's largest shareholders.
April Strategic Collaborations
April 11 Axiom Space, Inc. (Axiom) and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., which invested in Axiom last year, announced the establishment of a joint venture in Japan that will offer on-orbit services for both commercial and government customers, including relating to human spaceflight, research, manufacturing and other opportunities at the International Space Station and at Axiom Station, Axiom's own space station currently under construction, with staged deployment beginning in 2024.
April 26 SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation announced Space Compass Corporation, a joint venture that will offer an optical data relay service using an integrated space computing network. The network will feature a geostationary satellite for high-speed data transmission, observation satellites for data collection and high-altitude platform stations for low-latency, with the aim of supporting communications for disaster relief efforts involving ships and aircraft and in remote areas.
Capella Closes $97m Series C Investment Round
On April 25, Capella Space Corp., which operates a constellation of seven synthetic aperture radar imaging satellites, announced that it raised $97m in its Series C financing round led by NightDragon, with participation from existing investors DCVC and Cota Capital, bringing to $179m the total funding raised by the company to date.
April Launch Services Performed
April 1 Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) performed Transporter-4, the fourth mission for its dedicated smallsat rideshare program, using a Falcon 9 launch vehicle to orbit 40 small spacecraft and then recovering the vehicle's first stage on the Just Read the Instructions droneship.
April 8 SpaceX successfully performed Axiom Mission 1 for Axiom Space, Inc., transporting four private astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle with the Dragon spacecraft, marking the first all-private crew mission to the ISS. The crew members returned safely on April 25, splashing down off the coast of Florida.
April 21, 29 SpaceX successfully launched two batches of 53 Starlink satellites, each time on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
April 29 A Long March 2C launch vehicle launched the Siwei-01 and -02 commercial remote sensing satellites for China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co., Ltd.
Maxar Makes Strategic Investment in Blackshark.ai
On April 20, Maxar Technologies Inc. announced a strategic investment in Blackshark.ai, a geospatial data management company, strengthening its 3D Earth intelligence offerings.
April Launch Services Orders
April 5 Astranis Space Technologies Corp. announced that it selected Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to launch four of its MicroGEO satellites on a dedicated launch mission using the Falcon 9 launch vehicle in 2023.
April 19 Rocket Lab USA Inc. announced that it was selected by HawkEye 360 Inc. to perform three launches using the Electron launch vehicle, beginning with a rideshare mission as early as December 2022 followed by two dedicated missions, to orbit a total of 15 satellites by 2024.
April 20 OneWeb Communications Ltd. announced that it selected the Indian Space Research Organisation to perform a launch mission for its LEO broadband constellation in 2022.