Following reports earlier this week that Australian Stock Exchange-listed Sky and Space Global (SAS) had missed scheduled payments to its satellite manufacturer GomSpace, the narrowband satellite communications company that aims to put in orbit a constellation of Nanosatellites called ‘Pearls’ by 2020, said that the outstanding payments will be settled soon.
“In mid-October 2018, following discussions with GomSpace and upon satisfying the Sky and Space’s technical requirements, the Company approved the Critical Design Review (CDR) milestone (Company announcement dated October 22nd, 2018). Following this, the Company provided GomSpace with payment of EUR 1 million [U.S.$1.15 million] and will be paying the balance of the CDR milestone payment of EUR 2 million [U.S.$2.29 million] in the coming weeks. Total payments to GomSpace to date amount to EUR 5.5 million [U.S.$6.31 million],” the company said in an Australian Stock Exchange announcement dated 8 January 2019.
This part of the contract (worth, overall, U.S.$100 million) between GomSpace and Sky and Space Global is U.S.$3.45 million, with Sky and Space Global having paid the first tranche worth approximately U.S.$1.15 million to the Danish manufacturer in the third quarter of 2018. The remaining two other payments worth U.S.$2.3 million were due at the end of 2018 but are now past-due and as a result GomSpace warned shareholders on 4 January 2019 saying that it was negotiating a new payment schedule with Sky and Space Global. In the meantime GomSpace has slowed work on the Pearls CubeSats.
After SAS made their announcement, SpaceWatch.Global spoke with Meir Moalem, the company’s CEO.
When asked whether the GomSpace announcement of 4 January had been made after a new payment schedule with SAS had been agreed, Mr. Moalem said, “I cannot go into specifics of any of our commercial relationships, GomSpace included. As we disclosed in our recent announcement, SAS and GomSpace have a constant dialogue which is always constructive. The relationship, both on a personal and professional level are very good. The Pearls program is a multi-million dollar program, for the delivery of ~200 satellites and we believe GomSpace can deliver our highly sophisticated satellite constellation.”
In spite of this issue, however, Moalem is upbeat about SAS prospects in 2019, saying, “I am very confident. One major difference between SAS and other space programs, is the fact that we deploy our infrastructure in a series of batches, each including ~25 satellites. That means we are not susceptible to any specific delays or failures. This brings into play a much higher reliability and probability of success.”
“Since we provide all sorts of narrowband services, there is a high range of capabilities which can be provided from day one (from the first batch in space). These capabilities include Internet of Things (IoT) services, Machine to Machine (M2M), data transfer, data store and forward, texting, financial transactions which are not low latency etc. In fact, the only service will not be provided until we deploy most of the constellation is Real Time Voice calls as a 24/7 service. We target mid-2019 for our first batch launch with Virgin Orbit and expect to be revenue generating immediately after completion of in-orbit testing (6-8 weeks),” Moalem added.
While optimistic, though, Moalem emphasized that the coming months are crucial for SAS.
“2019 is the culminating year for SAS, the year we launch our first commercial assets. This is the year that everything needs to come together: the satellites, the software, the ground infrastructure, the IT systems, the supply chain, the logistics, the commercial contracts, the operations…and much more. Indeed – exciting times!” he said.
This story was updated to reflect a correction regarding the total value of the overall contract between Sky and Space Global and GomSpace. SpaceWatch.Global is happy to correct this oversight.