Viasat Inc., a global communications company, and satellite launch company, Arianespace, announced today a modification to their original ViaSat-3 satellite launch contract, signed in 2016. Under the new agreement, the two companies agreed to move the ViaSat-3 satellite from an Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle to the next-generation Ariane 64 (A64) launcher. With this contract, Viasat will become the first commercial customer to commit to launch on the A64.
The A64 launcher is expected to maintain launch quality and reliability, but with added mission effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility. The A64 launch vehicle will feature a modular configuration based on core stages powered by lower and upper liquid propellant modules, which is supplemented by four solid rocket motors. The A64’s configuration will also provide added performance to deliver a ViaSat-3 satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit where it can begin on-orbit operations faster.
Arianespace will launch the ViaSat-3 satellite from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Moving to the A64 launcher completes Viasat’s integrated launch strategy, which is designed to bring an on-time launch to all of the ViaSat-3 spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity and an integrated approach to launch planning. Viasat will announce specific mission assignments for each of the contracted launch vehicles at a later date.
Dave Ryan, president, Space and Commercial Networks at Viasat commented, “We have a long-standing partnership with Arianespace, and trust their A64 launcher will allow Viasat to meet key business objectives, which include bringing high-speed, high-quality broadband connectivity to end-users, worldwide. The A64 vehicle is a highly competitive launcher, and incorporates key features to ensure a more cost-effective, dependable ViaSat-3 spacecraft launch.”
Arianespace Chief Executive Officer, Stéphane Israël said, “We were honored that Viasat initially chose Arianespace for one of its ViaSat-3 launches, and has now evolved the program, enabling them to be the first commercial launch customer to commit to fly on our powerful Ariane 64 launcher. By moving to the A64 vehicle, we are confident we will demonstrate next-generation market adaptability—one that responds better to customer needs.”
The ViaSat-3 class of Ka-band satellites is expected to provide unprecedented capabilities in terms of service speed and flexibility for a satellite platform. The first two satellites will focus on the Americas and on Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), respectively, with the third satellite planned for the APAC region, completing Viasat's global service coverage. Each ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to deliver more than 1-Terabit per second of network capacity, and to leverage high levels of flexibility to dynamically direct capacity to where customers are located.