The five space ports under consideration in Scotland have formed an alliance to highlight their plans and eventual activity. The alliance wants to address common issues and promote the industry onto the global stage.
Three of the members (in Shetland, Sutherland and the Western Isles) are conventional vertical rocket sites, while two others (in Prestwick and Machrihanish, Argyll) are looked upon as ‘horizontal’ sites that depend on aircraft launches.
Ultimately, the goal is to assist the UK in its ambition to create awareness and demand of their orbital launch capability. The ability to launch would boost Scotland’s burgeoning small satellite industry and open up other space business areas such as low gravity manufacturing, earth observation, orbital energy harvesting, and space tourism, a statement said.
Ian Annett, Deputy Chief Executive for project delivery at the UK Space Agency, said, “The UK Space Agency and the new Spaceports Alliance are working in lockstep towards a common goal – make the UK the leading destination for space launch in Europe. We want each space port to provide a range of services that complements those available at other space port sites; meeting the myriad demands from companies for satellite launches and sub-orbital flights. The Spaceports Alliance will help us realize this ambition and build on our space sector’s proud history of collaboration.”
John Innes, of the Scottish Space Leadership Council, added, “The international race to build launch capability ahead of other global competitors is very much underway. The Spaceports Alliance will facilitate an inclusive, collaborative approach in order to navigate the sector through the challenges and opportunities posed by the prospect of UK launch in the very near future.”
The Sutherland spaceport has already won planning approval.
Also of interest is Chris’ report that In-Flight broadband specialist Gogo has lost a battle with the US Patent Office over a key patent claim.
The patent in question (9312947) is held by SmartSky Networks and the dispute saw Gogo Business Aviation challenge the validity of the SmartSky patent, which covers terrestrial-based high-speed data communications on a mesh network.
Gogo alleged that certain claimed features of the patent are present in prior art, and that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) did not consider the prior art before issuing the patent to SmartSky. Gogo challenged 20 claims of the patent, citing a variety of prior publications, including from trade body IEEE.
Gogo had asked the USPTO to review the patent. The USPTO declined the request. The Patent Office said, “Gogo has not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of prevailing in demonstrating that at least one challenged claim of the ‘947’ patent is unpatentable over the prior art of record.”
As a result, Gogo’s claim will not now make it to a formal hearing for review. Gogo is currently in the process of selling their Commercial Aviation business to Intelsat for $400 million.
“We disagree with the PTO’s decision not to review the 947 patent,” said Sergio Aguirre, President of Gogo Business Aviation. “To be clear, Gogo reiterates our strong belief that we are not infringing any valid patent held by SmartSky. Furthermore, neither the PTO’s decision nor SmartSky’s patent portfolio in any way impairs our ability to continue to successfully expand, to launch Gogo 5G or to enhance our position in the business aviation market. Today, our systems are flying on more than 5,550 business jets, including more than 1,000 AVANCE L5 systems and nearly 450 L3 systems providing connectivity to business aircraft of all types and sizes. We are committed to continuing to set the standard for inflight connectivity in business aviation as we progress toward the launch of Gogo 5G and further enhance the scale and profitability of our Business Aviation segment.”
At the outset of the claim, SmartSky, in its statement said, “SmartSky has developed, demonstrated, and is deploying a game-changing air-to-ground (ATG) network. Creating a 10x or better inflight connectivity experience required substantial innovation, as evident by SmartSky being granted, both domestically and internationally, over 150 patents along with nearly an additional 100 pending. Simply put, this IPR filing is effectively an admission by Gogo that validates SmartSky’s longstanding position that our intellectual property is absolutely critical to the essential function of a next generation ATG network. Specifically, from our deep portfolio they are challenging a single patent covering the use of software defined radios for beamforming to deliver continuous and uninterrupted high speed data communication to aircraft. We have conducted a preliminary review of the Gogo filing and are highly confident the USPTO will not reverse its prior grant of this patent that resulted from its extensive, three-year long examination process.
News stories authored by journalist Chris Forrester,
who posts for the Advanced Television infosite and is also a
Senior Contributor for Satnews Publishers.