United Arab Emirates Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) announced on Monday that its subsidiary, Thuraya Telecommunications, has signed an agreement to invest $17.5 million in Astrocast, a low earth orbit (LEO) internet of things (IoT) network operator. It marks Thuraya’s first investment in an LEO satellite constellation.
According to Yahsat’s filing with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the investment will be made as a convertible loan. In addition to the acquisition, both companies will extend a technical cooperation agreement signed in 2019 between Astrocast and Thuraya for another four years.
Vinamarine, the maritime administration of Vietnam, has recently chosen Thales Alenia Space, in partnership with MKE and Viettel, to provide a solution for connecting to the Search & Rescue Meosar (Medium Orbit Search And Rescue) global satellite network Cospas-Sarsat. The objective is to immediately detect and locate any distress signal within a 2,500 km radius of Haiphong, the country’s largest northern port. The European Galileo satellite positioning system mainly provides the location.
The Meolut Next solution proposed by Thales Alenia Space has already been selected by major users of the Cospas-Sarsat network, such as the United States, Canada, France, and the European Union, as well as Togo and recently Thailand. This solution is based on a compact active antenna, which is less than 6 square meters and can detect and locate distress signals from thirty satellites simultaneously, transmitted more than 5,000 kilometres away.
In contrast, conventional Meolut (Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminals) systems are each equipped with six large satellite dishes deployed over an area the size of a soccer field. These systems can only receive signals from six satellites simultaneously, one per antenna. The Meolut Next antenna dramatically improves the detection rate of the beacons and expands the coverage area while keeping maintenance costs minimal as it has no mechanical components.
The Meolut Next solution has successfully helped save lives, as demonstrated by its quick response to the distress beacon of Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen during the Golden Globe Race. The Golden Globe Race is a single-handed, round-the-world sailing race that started on September 4 in Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée. On November 18, 2022, 2,000 km southwest of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Lehtinen’s ship sank. He had enough time to put on his survival suit, jump into his life raft, and activate his distress beacon. His position was determined in just 4 minutes, and rescue personnel were immediately dispatched to meet him.
In addition to the benefits for search and rescue operations, the Meolut Next solution also has potential applications in other fields, such as environmental monitoring, maritime traffic management, and border surveillance. Implementing this solution in Vietnam will enhance its capability to quickly and efficiently respond to emergencies, thereby contributing to the safety and security of its citizens and those travelling through its waters.