On 24 May the UKSA (UK Space Agency) awarded GBP£32 million (US$45 million) to a consortium led by LEO constellation operator OneWeb. This group of UK space industry companies has been tasked with developing a satellite – known as “Joey-Sat” – to demonstrate new “beam-hopping” technology. Another aim of the project is to continue the development of “Responsible Space” thinking, to this end consortium member Astroscale will contribute debris removal technologies.
The satellite is targeted for launch in 2022 to allow for analysis of the “beam-hopping” technology ahead of possible inclusion in the planned OneWeb second-generation constellation. With “beam-hopping” it is hoped to enable remote re-tasking of in-orbit satellites, moving their coverage to areas of high-demand.
Members of the consortium are: OneWeb; SatixFy Space Systems, who will be responsible for developing the “beam-hopping” payload; Celestia UK, tasked with developing multibeam, electronically steered antenna equipped, smart ground-stations; and Astroscale UK, which will deliver evolved debris removal technologies for demonstration on the satellite.