SES-17 begins delivering satellite connectivity services across Americas

Very high throughput geostationary satellite enters into fully operational stage and is set to expand high-speed broadband network capabilities and accelerate digitisation

The latest geostationary (GEO) Ka-band satellite from Luxembourg-based operator SES – the all-electric propulsion SES-17 – is now fully operational over the Americas, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean at 67.1 degrees West after months of in-orbit raising and successful in-orbit testing.

The very high throughput craft, built by Thales Alenia Space, is ready to provide “unparalleled” connectivity services to customers across aeronautical, maritime, enterprise and government markets, whether on land, at sea or in the skies, according to the operator.

SES-17 was successfully launched onboard an Ariane 5 launcher operated by Arianespace from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 23 October 2021. It is the 37th SES satellite launched by Arianespace and the 30th built by Thales Alenia Space, joining the 70-strong SES satellite network.

With a fully digital payload powered by the most powerful digital transponder processor in orbit, “unmatched” flexibility and nearly 200 user beams, SES-17 is said to mark not only a significant development in the firm’s technology, but is also a first step in the integration of SES’s multi-orbit network.

The spacecraft’s digital payload is supported by SES’s Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) software, making it interoperable with its second-generation O3b mPOWER satellite communications system in medium Earth orbit (MEO), set to launch in the coming months.

SES-17 anchor partner Thales InFlyt Experience will use SES-17 as the bedrock for FlytLive, a next-generation aviation connectivity solution enhancing Wi-Fi experiences onboard commercial aircraft across the Americas and the Caribbean. Moreover, key enterprise customers in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, including SSi Canada and COMNET, will now expand the reach and capability of their broadband networks to more remote areas.

“We are excited to have the highly anticipated SES-17 satellite start delivering services, while redefining and transforming the digital landscape for many different applications across the Americas, and ultimately bringing high-speed connectivity to people wherever they are,” said SES chief technology officer Ruy Pinto. “At SES, we are extremely thankful to our partners at Thales Alenia Space and Arianespace that have shared our vision at each step of SES-17’s journey to orbit.”

The SES-17 announcement comes hot on the heels of the company announcing that not only would its non-geostationary MEO satellite network be part of the governmental satellite communications-grade satellite communications platform it has developed with funding from the European Space Agency, but it had also been awarded a Funded Space Act Agreement from Nasa’s Communications Services Project.

The latter contract will see SES GS, the satellite operator’s government solutions subsidiary, in partnership with Planet Labs PBC, support the development and demonstration of near-Earth communications services in support of the US space agency’s future mission needs.

SES GS will partner with Planet to develop a real-time, always-on, low-latency connectivity system enabled by SES’s GEO and MEO constellations, including O3b mPOWER, to further Nasa missions.

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