Planet and KSAT Licensing Issue Enters 22nd Month

The new commercial ground station built by New North Networks sits idle. Credit: New North Networks.

Recently at the Canadian SmallSat Symposium both Planet and KSAT threatened to pull ground station assets out of Canada by June 1 if progress hadn’t been made in approving their licenses. Then news came from New North Networks, the company which manages the ground station infrastructure in Inuvik, that they had heard from Global Affairs Canada and that an approval of sorts had been received. However, as it turns out, and as New North CEO Tom Zubko told SpaceQ last week, it wasn’t quite the approval they had been hoping for.

The ground station saga that encompasses Planet, KSAT, New North Networks and Global Affairs Canada is entering its 22nd month with a firm deadline set by the companies less than three months away.

On February 21, Zubko seemingly had reason to be encouraged. He had received notification from Global Affairs Canada with news on the licensing of ground station assets owned by Planet and KSAT which his company manages in Inuvik. He relayed that information to SpaceQ mid-afternoon the following day. Zubko told SpaceQ that approval to move forward had been received. He cautioned though that details and conditions had not yet been received.  He was cautiously optimistic.

In a follow-up email SpaceQ received last week, Zubko said he “the approval received from the Minister was actually an approval from the Minister for GAC (Global Affairs Canada) to begin negotiations on a license.”

He also stated that he wasn’t sure what that meant “as there are no provisions in the RSSSA (Remote Sensing Space Systems Act) legislation or regulations covering such action.”

Zubko is once again cautioning that while this is progress, it is not a resolution to the matter.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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