Viasat Inc., a global communications company, announced today it selected SpaceX to launch one of its ViaSat-3 satellite missions. The Viasat mission is scheduled to launch in the 2020 - 2022 timeframe from the Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This mission will launch aboard a Falcon Heavy.
Viasat chose the SpaceX Falcon Heavy for its ability to fly a near direct-injection mission, inserting a ViaSat-3 satellite extremely close to geostationary orbit—as a result, the spacecraft can begin in-orbit testing (IOT) quickly after launch, rather than spending weeks or months performing orbit raising maneuvers. This is expected to enable Viasat to turn on its ultra-high-speed broadband service much quicker after launch than is possible with other launch vehicles.
“Viasat sought a ViaSat-3 launch partner that understood our unique mission requirements: to safely and quickly bring a ViaSat-3 spacecraft into orbit, to further our goal of delivering terabits of data from space to meet growing global broadband demand,” said Dave Ryan, president, Space Systems at Viasat. “We selected SpaceX as they continue to demonstrate their commitment to advancing space technologies. Their proven technology is both powerful and efficient enough to thrust a ViaSat-3 spacecraft close to geostationary orbit.”
“There are exciting opportunities for Falcon Heavy in the market, particularly for customers like Viasat that need direct-injection extremely close to geostationary orbit,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “We look forward to delivering ViaSat-3 to orbit and helping bring Viasat’s latest technology into service.”
The ViaSat-3 class of Ka-band satellites is expected to provide vastly superior 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 Asia Pacific (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.
Selection of Falcon Heavy for one of the ViaSat-3 launches is the next step in implementing Viasat's integrated launch strategy for its ViaSat-3 satellite program, which is designed to ensure the on-time launch of its spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity and a systemic, integrated approach to launch planning. Viasat will announce specific ViaSat-3 mission assignments for each of its contracted launch vehicles at a later date.