SAS finalises agreement to expand proposed nanosat network
Australian space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) has finalised a new head of agreement with Danish satellite company GomSpace for supply of additional nanosatellites to expand the proposed SAS internet and communications constellations to deliver global coverage.
The pending announcement prompted SAS to request the Australian Securities Exchange to place it in a voluntary trading halt company late last week.
That will now be extended to Thursday to bed down changes to the board, with two directors, Michael Malone and Di Fulton, resigning and a search for replacements now under way.
“We have an exciting path ahead that will further strengthen SAS as a dominant player in the global space market. I would like to thank Michael and Di for their contributions at board level,” said Meir Moalem, SAS managing director and chief executive.
Moalem said over the last few months the company had identified a growing demand for internet of things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) services.
“The SAS team has reacted to that demand and we are now planning to launch a global coverage constellation as a first step. This will open up new markets and new potential for revenues, strengthening us on our path toward a real-time communications network,” he said.
SAS is planning what it calls the Pearls constellation of around 200 nanosatellites, providing a low cost communication network for commercial use across a number of sectors the telecommunications and international transport industries.
The company listed on the ASX in 2016 and has a current market capitalisation of $58.98 million. SAS said the planned launch of the first batch of nanosatellites had been moved from mid-2019 to early-2020.
Memorandums of understanding (MoU) had been signed with Arianespace and Rocket Lab to broaden launch opportunities and to provide additional contingencies and launch options.
When signed, the launch services agreement with Arianespace will confirm a launch commitment for 88 nanosatellites utilising Arianespace Vega launchers operated from the Guiana Space Centre.
Under the terms of the MoU with US firm Rocket Lab, SAS will assess whether it could meet technical, operational, commercial and scheduled launch requirements for a first launch during third quarter this year. That could occur from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch facility.
SAS said the time extension allowed it to grow its potential customer base and enhance revenue opportunities with existing customers.
“Following this change of first batch of nanosatellites to a global coverage constellation and the provision of IoT and M2M data coverage, 16 of the company's existing customers have expressed their intent to increase the value of their existing agreements with SAS,” it said.
The new nanosatellites will be launched into high inclination orbits, allowing full global coverage that will include new markets in Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada.
SAS has also signed reseller agreements with Singapore-based Streamcode and German firm T-Systems South Africa. The company said that had strengthened its progression to monetise its nanosatellites once launched into space.
The new agreement with GomSpace follows an earlier 2017 agreement development for development and production of a nanosatellite platform. This contract was valued at €64.5 million and so far €7.2 million has been paid.
GomSpace said it and SAS had conducted talks on an additional constellation of nanosatellites and the two companies had now agreed on the principle terms.
Delivery will be in two batches, the first of eight satellites by the end of 2019 and a second optional delivery of another eight next year.
"We are very happy that we can support Sky and Space Global with this global coverage constellation for IoT and M2M solution, and that we find a new way to corporate on the original project,” said Niels Buus, GomSpace CEO.
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