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© Thales Group Electronics Production | March 30, 2018

Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio, Spaceflight Industries to manufacture smallsats

The Space Alliance formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) has taken a minority stake in Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, after having received all government approvals for the transaction.
This investment is part of an overall fundraising effort of USD 150 million from several sources which include The Space Alliance, existing investors, and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., one of the largest general trading companies in Japan. With this latest funding, Spaceflight Industries has raised more than USD 200 million in total capital.

BlackSky, the geospatial intelligence company of Spaceflight Industries, is now fulfilling its vision to deploy a high revisit rate earth imaging constellation which, when combined with other space and terrestrial based sensors, will enable delivery of global monitoring solutions and geospatial activity-based intelligence products and services. BlackSky’s first four Global next-generation satellites are slated to launch in the next 12 months. This round of funding ensures production and launch of an additional 20 Global satellites which are planned to be in orbit by 2020. These smallsats are said to generate revenues that will enable the production and launch of the full 60 satellite constellation.

In conjunction with the investment, Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries are creating a Seattle-based industrial joint venture (owned 50% by Spaceflight Industries and 50% by Thales Alenia Space) which will be responsible for manufacturing cost-effective, high-performance small satellites at scale, including the 20 satellites for the BlackSky constellation. The new company, named LeoStella LLC, will start operation this year.

“This partnership reflects the ‘new space’ transformation strategy being implemented by Thales Alenia Space, with the aim of becoming a major manufacturer of small satellites for constellations featuring short revisit times, both in Europe and the United States,” said Jean Loïc Galle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space. “The LeoStella LLC Joint Venture, will combine the innovative and competitive design of the platform developed by Spaceflight Industries, with the industrial expertise developed by Thales Alenia Space for constellations such as Globalstar 2, Iridium NEXT and O3b, and will be able to offer a production capacity exceeding BlackSky’s requirements.”

“This new and important agreement with Spaceflight Industries strengthens Telespazio’s role as global operator in the greatly expanding sector of the Earth Observation from Space,” stated Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo’s Coordinator of Space Activities and CEO of Telespazio. “The launch of new constellations of mini-satellites working alongside the main space systems will be one of the driving elements of the “space economy” and will allow Telespazio to meet in an even more effective and profitable way the present and future needs of innovative services for citizens, institutions and companies.”

According to Jason Andrews, Chairman and CEO of Spaceflight Industries, “This agreement with two leading players in the European space industry validates the BlackSky business model and reduces capital and execution risk for our high-revisit rate earth observation constellation. The LeoStella LLC Joint Venture with Thales Alenia Space represents a game changer for small and microsatellite production in the United States. Further, the partnership with Telespazio, and significant involvement of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., accelerates our go-to-market strategy and creates win-win synergies for all parties.”

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April 21 2018 3:38 pm V9.3.2-2