Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Viasat, a global satellite communications company, today marked the start of operations of the new Viasat antenna system installed at SSTL’s Guildford headquarters with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new antenna system forms part of the Viasat Real-Time Earth (RTE) network, a hybrid ground and space network, which has been designed to provide low-latency satellite data to users on-demand without the need to invest in a dedicated antenna system. Through this relationship, SSTL can now offer satellites with a full range of ground services to their customers, enabling quick delivery of data to customers’ processing centres on a subscription basis.
The antenna system installed at SSTL is a full-motion, 5.4m system that can operate in both S and X bands and is fully controlled from the Viasat Network Operation Centre in Colorado. The Guildford site joins other sites in the United States, Argentina, Australia and Sweden as part of Viasat’s roll out of the RTE network.
The new antenna system was installed in November 2017 and it has been successfully used to command and control SSTL satellites, thus fully testing out the network architecture. Seamless routing from the SSTL Satellite Operations Centre in Guildford through the RTE network to the satellites has been achieved and final testing is now underway with expected completion by the end of January 2018.
Kent Leka, general manager, Antenna Systems, Viasat, said, “Viasat and SSTL have worked closely together on the integration of SSTL specific uplink and downlink protocols into the RTE ground station equipment to achieve “plug-n-play” compatibility between the satellites and SSTL’s Satellite Operations Centre (SOC). SSTL’s satellites will now be able to utilise any of the ground stations within Viasat’s RTE network seamlessly with no hardware changes needed.”
SSTL’s payload data share customers, such as those signed up for the NovaSAR mission, will benefit from easy access to payload data via the option of a bundled payload and network access contract.
James Northam, Head of Satellite Operations, Ground Segments and Mission Services at SSTL, commented “The ability to use the Viasat RTE network with plug-n-play compatibility to SSTL’s protocols opens a new range of options for our customers who now have the option to use the RTE network to download data from their satellites without the need to invest in a ground station infrastructure of their own. Customers have the choice to invest in their own ground segment infrastructure, use the RTE network, or even a combination of the two. The addition of RTE will bring a substantial flexibility to our Mission offerings and we look forward to introducing these new concepts into our Mission portfolio over the coming months.”
In addition to the RTE network, SSTL’s ground infrastructure includes two ground stations in the UK and a ground station mini rack at Kongsberg Satellite Services facilities in Svalbard.