Bremen, 28 February 2022 – Technology and space company OHB SE is entering the next phase of the SpaceLink project, which began in September 2021 with the announcement that its subsidiary OHB System AG has been selected as the preferred manufacturer of SpaceLink's first MEO satellite constellation.
Australian-based technology group Electro Optic Systems Holding (EOS:ASX), of which SpaceLink is a wholly owned subsidiary, and OHB previously entered into an Authority to Proceed (ATP) agreement to undertake a co-engineering phase intended to develop an optimised satellite design that meets all of SpaceLink's performance requirements and optimises SpaceLink's business case, while leveraging OHB's strong experience in MEO satellites and optical communications in space.
In ground-breaking developments, SpaceLink and OHB have improved the satellite design by integrating higher bandwidth communication terminals on MEO satellites, further improving the profitability of the SpaceLink business model in the short, medium and long term.
The development process commenced at the same time that new optical communications terminals, which are key payload elements for SpaceLink satellites, were formally qualified for service in space for US government customers. The SpaceLink-OHB joint design effort used this new technology and other innovations to significantly improve satellite capacity (50 %) and lifetime (25 %), thus optimising SpaceLink's future performance and capacity. This also resulted in a six-month extension of the project schedule, from mid-2024 operations to late-2024, and a 12 % price increase to above MUSD 350.
At the same time as these improvements were being made, SpaceLink customers' demand for earlier service delivery was increasing, and SpaceLink's access to capital was tightening globally. Despite a compelling business model underpinned by customer demand, SpaceLink therefore required a faster, more cost-effective way to establish technical feasibility, validate market demand, establish pricing benchmarks, and achieve positive cash flow.
SpaceLink now announced that it has achieved significant progress towards deploying its space communication services business by developing a faster, more economical way to establish technical feasibility, demonstrate market demand, establish pricing, and achieve positive cash flow. This initial operational capability (IOC) will be moved ahead to earlier in 2024 than previously possible, allowing it to meet the customers' requirements and to secure SpaceLink's extensive communication spectrum licenses by meeting the stipulated Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulatory milestone date in mid-2024.
"OHB is fully prepared to support SpaceLink in establishing initial operational capability while continuing to work towards full operational capability and ensuring compatibility between IOC and FOC," says Lutz Bertling, member of OHB's Management Board. OHB expects the final selection of a vendor and the award of the contract for the IOC by EOS and SpaceLink in April 2022, with establishment of initial operational capability scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.
SpaceLink anticipates that its 2024 capability will result in a growing need for robust space communications services, and therefore an increased need for capacity and durability of SpaceLink's communications satellites. EOS has today extended its commercial relationship with OHB to further improve the capability of SpaceLink satellites. The focus of this contracted activity is ensuring interoperability of SpaceLink constellation satellites of varying build and launch dates, vendor qualification, satellite lifetime extension, and technical risk mitigation.
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