[WSBW 2023] Unstoppable New Space Emerging, New Trends of Satcom Business in MEO.

Warpspace Inc.
6 min readOct 17, 2023

This year, Euroconsult, a consulting firm for the satellite industry, hosted the World Satellite Business Week (WSBW) at The Westin Paris — Vendôme near the Louvre Museum. WSBW is a conference that brings together top executives from satellite-related businesses from around the world to discuss trends in satellite manufacturing, satellite data analysis, small space vehicles, and other satellite-related businesses.

This year’s Euroconsult celebrates its 40th anniversary and is a very large and informative conference with more than 1,500 participants from all over the world and more than 230 CXO-level speakers. Warpspace’s CSO, Mr. Mori, attended and participated in a panel discussion on trends in the world’s most advanced satellite industry. In this article, we will report on the topics presented at WSBW that could have a significant impact on the satellite industry in the future.

As for the overall trends, Mori, who attended the event on-site, felt the following two points in particular,

  1. Many topics related to security are increasing, especially the demand from government agencies.
    Although funding among private companies is currently at a low ebb, some private companies have been able to raise funds due to special demand from government agencies related to National Security, and this trend is stronger than ever before. Government agencies are utilizing the capabilities of the private sector to speed up development, as is the case with the Space Development Agency (SDA) in the United States. (Reference article: [SmallSat Symposium 2023])
  2. The collaboration between Traditional Space and New Space has brought the communications satellite market to a turning point.
    SES, one of the largest communications satellite companies, is collaborating with SpaceX, which owns Starlink. Collaborations were also announced between Intelsat, a major telecommunications company, and Aalyria Technologies, a spin-off from Google that develops optical communications technology.

This article provides an in-depth look at a topic that could have a particularly large impact on Warpspace: the collaboration between Traditional Space and New Space.

(For last year’s article is here.)

Warpspace participated in this year’s WSBW as a Silver Sponsor.
Mori spoke at a panel discussion

SES and SpaceX — Starlink’s rapid progress

Behind the collaboration between SES and SpaceX is the development of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite communications business in LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

Until now, communications satellites have been located in the Geostationary Orbit (GSO), which is an orbit that is geostationary relative to the ground. However, because GSO is far from the earth’s surface, satellite communications using GSO have suffered from problems such as insufficient communication latency and speed, as well as high satellite development costs due to the need for larger satellite systems (antennas and batteries) and high barriers to entry for newcomers.

The Falcon 9, a SpaceX rocket, has overcome these problems. The Falcon 9 is a thoroughly low-cost rocket that can send satellites to LEO, MEO, and GSO at a much lower cost than similarly sized rockets of the same era. This has led to an increase in the number of new operators entering the commercial satellite market and a trend toward launching smaller satellites into LEO and MEO.

The major communications satellite operators, such as SES, saw the advantage of MEO being more distant than LEO, namely that MEO satellites could cover a much larger area of the earth’s surface than LEO satellites (greater coverage); GSO would be too distant and LEO would be too close. SES has therefore announced its O3b (Other 3 Billion) satellite constellation project, which aims to connect the world’s 3 billion people who are not connected to the Internet.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is implementing the “Starlink” project to cover LEO’s weak point of limited coverage by deploying a large constellation of communication satellites in LEO. SpaceX plans to launch another 12,000 satellites in the next few years and is poised to dominate the communications satellite market.

Against this backdrop, on September 13, 2023, SES announced that it will collaborate with SpaceX to provide “SES Cruise mPOWERED + Starlink,” a joint service using Starlink’s LEO satellites and SES’s MEO satellites. This service combines the advantages of MEO and LEO to provide cruise ships and their guests with fast and secure communications 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Starlink is so strong that even SES, the largest satellite communications provider (Traditional Space), has reached a phase where it is joining forces with SpaceX (New Space),”

said Mori.

Starlink satellite antenna installed on a cruise ship. ©Royal Caribbean Group

Intelsat and Aalyria Technologies — New Players in MEO x Optical Communications

Intelsat, a long-established satellite operator, announced at WSBW that it has reached an agreement with Aalyria Technologies, a spin-off from Google that develops optical communications technology, to dramatically increase the speed of satellite communications(*4).

As a first step, the collaboration plans to establish a terrestrial and space network using optical communications to transfer data at speeds of several hundred gigabits per second by 2024. According to the announcement, Tightbeam, an optical communications technology developed at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Space Time, Aalyria’s network orchestration technology (which automates the construction, operation, and management of systems, software, and services), will enable the use of aircraft, ships. The goal appears to be to “bring the capacity and capability of submarine cables to space” by connecting aircraft, ships, and ground stations to a variety of orbiting satellites.

Of particular importance to Warpspace in this plan is the orbit to be used: Intelsat has deployed satellite communications services using GSO satellites in the past, but this plan will deploy a constellation of satellites in MEO. It is not known what specific services Intelsat and Aalyria will provide using MEO. However, in terms of optical communication services using MEO, there is a good possibility that the deployment of a communications satellite in MEO could compete with WarpHub InterSat, which will be provided by Warpspace to cover the weak point of LEO satellites, which is narrow coverage, by using optical communications to relay communications between LEO satellites and the ground. Certainly, if there is a competition, it would be a very powerful one.

Indeed, if they do compete, they will have a very strong competitor on their hands,” said Mori,

“Warpspace had its eye on MEO early on because MEO has wider coverage than LEO and can easily communicate with ground stations, so satellite data can be sent to the ground with low latency. The fact that Intelsat, a communications satellite super-giant, and Aalyria Technologies, the geniuses behind Google, have also begun to pay attention to MEO is, in fact, a validation of Warpspace’s policy.”

The optical communications market has taken a new turn with WSBW. We will keep our eyes on the future trends.

Image of a satellite constellation by Intelsat and Aalyria that enables two-way ground and space connectivity at speeds of hundreds of gigabits per second ©Aalyria

(*4 [Reference: SPACE NEWS] Intelsat and Aalyria aim for “subsea cables in space”)

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Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.