Satellite imagery company Maxar to sell Canadian unit for CUS$1 billion

… built by Canadian technology company MDA, is seen over the uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as it makes the first Commercial Crew …

REUTERS: U.S. satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies Inc said on Monday it would sell its Canadian space robotics business to a consortium led by Northern Private Capital (NPC) for CUS$1 billion (US$765 million), in a bid to ease its debt.

The company’s shares were up 16.2per cent in premarket trading.

Maxar will retain its U.S.-based space robotics division, which is responsible for developing the robotic hardwares used in NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

“This transaction combined with the recently completed sale of real estate in Palo Alto reduces Maxar’s overall debt by more than US$1 billion,” said Chief Financial Officer Biggs Porter. As of September, Maxar had a total debt of US$3.1 billion.

The acquisition of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) will be financed through a combination of equity and debt.

MDA, which has helped construct part of the International Space Station, will operate as a stand-alone company within NPC’s portfolio following the transaction.

Reuters first reported in June that Maxar was exploring sale of its space robotics business.

MDA, which started in the basement of a Vancouver home, makes defense and maritime systems, radar geospatial imagery, space robotics, satellite antennas, and communication subsystems.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Amy Caren Daniel)

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Tesla, Virgin Galactic, Boeing and Lockheed Martin

This is why companies like Amazon backed Blue Origin, Tesla backed SpaceX, Virgin Galactic Holdings and Boeing are taking a number of initiatives …

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – December 30, 2019 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Amazon AMZN, Tesla TSLA, Virgin Galactic Holdings SPCE, Boeing BA and Lockheed Martin LMT.

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Space Tourism to Be a 2020 Craze? Stocks in Focus

The space tourism sector is heating up with the major players getting close to their goal of delivering various forms of commercial spaceflight by 2020.

Notably, NASA’s decision to open up the International Space Station for tourism and other private ventures from 2020 is a key catalyst in expanding the scope and market of space tourism.

Space Tourism Prospects Aplenty

Space tourism, also known as “citizen space exploration” or “personal spaceflight”, has become an attractive space due to strong consumer spending.

However, the biggest roadblock for the success of space tourism is the high cost of travel. Notably, a trip to the International Space Station will cost around $35K per day of stay while a return ticket will cost around $60 million.

The cost of getting into space will decline if the next generation of space planes can reach the orbit, making it an economically feasible option for a larger customer segment. This will also help the market to expand rapidly.

Per marketstudyreport.com data, cited by MarketWatch, the space tourism market is expected to be worth $1.18 billion by 2024, witnessing CAGR of 16.6% between 2019 and 2024.

This is why companies like Amazon backed Blue Origin, Tesla backed SpaceX, Virgin Galactic Holdings and Boeing are taking a number of initiatives to gain a foothold in this promising space.

Stocks in Focus

Amazon

Amazon backed Blue Origin’s offering is based around a more traditional rocket (the New Shepard), which takes off and lands vertically, and its objectives include orbital spaceflight.

The space tourism company has performed several test flights, the most recent one on Dec 11, and is planning to put paying passengers into space by 2020. The company’s plan is to place up to six passengers on each flight, with tickets expected to cost around $200K to $300K per person.

Moreover, the company has teamed up with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Draper in an attempt to build a lunar landing system to meet the

U.S. government’s goal of taking humans to the moon by 2024.

Virgin Galactic

To date, Virgin Galactic has been the main competitor for Blue Origin in terms of sub-orbital space tourism. Its current space plane, VSS Unity, entered outer space in December 2018 as part of its testing process, with two additional space planes in development in Mojave, CA.

Tickets currently cost $250K per person and more than 600 people from 60 countries have reserved seats.

However, the company has been facing headwinds over the space flight. Virgin Galactic originally aimed to deliver space flight by 2009 but it got delayed. In 2014, the company’s first spaceship VSS Enterprise crashed, resulting in the death of its co-pilot, Michael Alsbury.

Tesla

Tesla backed SpaceX already has experience when it comes to launching space-bound flights and the company is hoping to get on board the space tourism bandwagon.

However, unlike other companies in this sector, it is prioritizing lunar tourism and other forms of space tourism extending beyond Earth’s orbit.

Notably, in September, SpaceX unveiled Starship MK1, its new starship that will be able to carry up to 100 people to the moon, Mars or other destinations in space or around Earth.

Moreover, SpaceX is one of the companies that will choose clients and deliver them via its own rocket-and-capsule launch systems for the International Space Station trips starting next year.

Boeing

Boeing emerged as a major player in the space tourism industry when it entered into a deal with NASA as part of their Commercial Crew Development program. This program was designed to increase private sector involvement in the production of crew vehicles to be launched into orbit.

Notably, the company’s contract with NASA provides it with the opportunity to sell seats to space tourists. In October, the company also announced its plans to invest $20 million in Virgin Galactic.

Boeing is another company that will choose and deliver clients for International Space Station trips starting next year.

Zacks Rank

While Tesla carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), Amazon and Virgin Galactic currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Boeing currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2020

In addition to the stocks discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top tickers for the entirety of 2020?

These 10 are painstakingly hand-picked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. They are our primary picks to buy and hold. Start Your Access to the New Zacks Top 10 Stocks >>

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.


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String of lights in night sky caused by Elon Musk satellites

RESIDENTS reported seeing a string of glowing lights flying through the sky last night. Dozens of evenly-spaced out lights were spotted travelling over …

RESIDENTS reported seeing a string of glowing lights flying through the sky last night.

Dozens of evenly-spaced out lights were spotted travelling over Warrington before disappearing at around 6.15pm yesterday evening, Sunday.

Eyewitnesses in parts of Warrington including Great Sankey, Birchwood and Daresbury reported seeing the lights in the sky.

But if you spotted the strange phenomenon and have been worrying about an impending alien invasion, fear not.

It appears that the spectacle was in fact caused by satellites passing overhead, specifically SpaceX’s new Starlink constellation.

The video below shows the satellites captured on camera in Derbyshire last night:

#SpaceX#starlink satellite trails over #Winnats Pass, #PeakDistrict, #Derbyshire, #England. 29th Dec 2019 18:08 5 sec exposures #timelapse#skyatnightpic.twitter.com/pBsnBBXwcL

— Tom Sparrow (@3dSparrow) December 29, 2019

The Elon Musk-owned company launched a total of 60 new satellites into orbit in November in order to improve broadband internet connections.

And, when visible, the spacecrafts form a sight similar to a string of glowing pearls in the night sky.

In the past few months, the line of lights has sparked waves of claims of UFO sightings across the glove.

Another view of SpaceX’s Starlink travelling through the sky:

🛰 Some clear skies are expected this evening so you should be able to see the @SpaceX Starlink series of satellites crossing the sky above the county.

Look to the sky at 4.58pm when you should see a train of satellites move across the sky. pic.twitter.com/JqWzwjp7F3

— Northamptonshire Weather🎄 (@NNweather) December 30, 2019

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Elon Musk details SpaceX progress on latest Starship spacecraft build and flight timelines

The holidays might be a time of slowed activity for most companies in the tech sector, but for SpaceX, it was a time to ramp production efforts on the …

The holidays might be a time of slowed activity for most companies in the tech sector, but for SpaceX, it was a time to ramp production efforts on the latest Starship prototype – “Starship SN1” as it’s called, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. This flight design prototype of Starship is under construction at SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas development facility, and Musk was in attendance over the weekend overseeing its build and assembly.

Musk shared video of the SpaceX team working on producing the curved dome that will sit atop the completed Starship SN1 (likely stands for ‘serial number 1,’ a move to a more iterative naming system and away from the “Mark” nomenclature used for the original prototype), a part he called “the most difficult” in terms of the main components of the new spacecraft. He added that each new SN version of the rocket SpaceX builds will have minor improvements “at least” through the first twenty or so versions, so it’s clear they expect to iterate and test these quickly.

As for when it might actually fly, Musk said that he hopes this Starship will take off sometime around “2 to 3 months” from now, which is still within range of the projections for a first Starship high-altitude test flight given by the CEO earlier this year at the unveiling of the Starship Mk1 prototype. That prototype was originally positioned as the one that would fly for the high-altitude test, but it blew its top during testing in November and Musk said they’d be moving on to a new design rather than try to repair or rebuild the Mk1.

Musk also shared new details about the construction process for Starship, including that SpaceX will move its build process for future spacecraft to an enclosed building starting with Starship “SN2” in January – though mostly to block out the winds experienced in Boca Chica, since Musk says that welding for stainless steel (the primary material for the Starship fuselage) is much less sensitive to dust and debris than aluminum.

In another tweet, Musk detailed another change from SpaceX’s previous operating model in developing Starship: The future spacecraft’s development is being focused at Boca Chica currently, he said, while SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral teams are “focused on Falcon/Dragon.” Up until now, SpaceX has been operating two separate teams working in parallel on Starship prototypes at both sites. Musk didn’t detail what will become of Starship Mk2, the other earlier prototype that was currently in development at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Musk also shared updates about his tunneling company The Boring Co. (they hope to open their Vegas tunnel to drivers in 2020), Starlink (could be available to customers in the Caribbean either in 2020 or 2021) and chocolate chip muffins.

Simulation of first crewed flight of Falcon 9 / Dragon 2020 @NASApic.twitter.com/BSDPYTcVIG

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 30, 2019

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SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites Mistook As UFOs By People

Astronomers have raised their concern over the launch of a fleet of new satellites as they would obstruct their view of the universe. While the light from …

Astronomers have raised their concern over the launch of a fleet of new satellites as they would obstruct their view of the universe. While the light from these can pollute space observations, people from towns across the US state of Montana thought the light to be from an extraterrestrial source.

The ‘strange lights’ in the sky were thought to be UFOs that were supposedly invading or just visiting Earth. Local authorities had to issue statements to clear up the misunderstanding and explain that the UFOs were, in fact, satellites. The chain of satellites were also seen in other states like Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan.

The @SpaceX Starlink Satellite train! So cool you saw it!!! 😯 https://t.co/R4lchBO8cE

— Christina Burkhart (@C_Burkhart) December 23, 2019

Thank you for your observations.

You observed a train of SpaceX Starlink satellites.

I observed the same event & here are a few photos captured with a 100mm lens using a 30 second exposure (stars are trailing due to our rotating earth). Photos were taken from south Calgary. pic.twitter.com/EZ8DJGyAJu

— Astrogeo (@astrogeo) December 30, 2019

The chain of satellites is a part of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation that aims to provide high-speed internet access from space. The chain of satellites was launched on 11 November 2019, the second set of 60 satellites to be launched since May. SpaceX is going to deploy 12,000 satellites by mid-2020s which later can be increased to 42,000. In addition to SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are going to launch a network of satellites to provide better internet connectivity.

SEE ALSO: These Star Wars-Style Lasers Could Track Space Junk In Earth’s Orbit To Prevent Deadly Collisions

According to Gizmodo, the sightings of satellites launched in May had sparked similar UFO reports in Europe. Visible as bright streaks of light, the ‘train’ of satellites might just seem like UFOs to the common people. SpaceX responded to the concerns by suggesting a solution; to paint portions of satellites black in an effort to reduce their reflectiveness.

A train of SpaceX Starlink satellites are visible in the night sky in this still from a video captured by satellite tracker Marco Langbroek in Leiden, the Netherlands on May 24, 2019, just one day after SpaceX launched 60 of the Starlink internet communications satellites pic.twitter.com/iIwOHyREiq

— Jason (@Jasonvalliere2) May 25, 2019

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