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SES, Viasat hail successful satellite launches

European operator’s second-generation medium earth orbit system said to be just one launch away from providing global connectivity services backed by service level agreements

Showing that the current surge in satellite-based communications shows no signs of slowing down, two leading satellite companies in two different continents, SES and Viasat, have revealed that the SpaceX Falcon rocket has taken their craft into space from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

For SES, the Falcon 9 delivered an additional, second, pair of O3b mPOWER satellites to join the first two launched in December 2022, which have arrived at their target medium earth orbit (MEO) and are currently undergoing in-orbit check-out.

Comprising an initial constellation of 11 high-throughput satellites built by Boeing, the O3b mPOWER ecosystem is scalable, and requires six MEO satellites to provide high-performance connectivity services around the globe. The O3b mPOWER system is designed to offer high-performance network services delivering what SES says will be terabit-level scale; flexible, guaranteed throughput; roundtrip latency of less than 150 milliseconds; and “unmatched” service availability.

Additionally, SES is working closely with ground system partners to virtualise and standardise a variety of platforms on the O3b mPOWER network to serve mobility, telecom, government and enterprise customers more effectively.

The O3b mPOWER commercial service is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2023. Key customers who have signed up for the next-gen system include Microsoft, Princess Cruises, Marlink, Jio Platforms, Orange, Claro Brasil, Vodafone Cook Islands, the Government of Luxembourg (subject to parliamentary approval) and the newly announced CNT Ecuador.

“Today we are closer to delivering our promise of a new era of connectivity,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “Our team has been working with more than 30 technology partners to prepare the O3b mPOWER space and ground segments to offer the differentiated and high-performance services that our customers need to run their operations.

“We have already rolled out and tested O3b mPOWER terminals over the existing O3b constellation, and are delighted to hear positive customer feedback about their increased reliability and performance, as well as the ease of self-installation, activation and maintenance.”

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For its part, Viasat announced the successful launch of its ViaSat-3 Americas craft aboard a SpaceX Falcn Heavy and approximately four hours and 32 minutes after lift-off, the satellite separated from the launch vehicle.

First signals from the satellite were acquired approximately 15 minutes later through a ground station in South Korea. In the coming days, ViaSat-3 will deploy its solar arrays and drift to its final orbital location. Viasat expects it will take less than three weeks for ViaSat-3 to reach its final orbital destination, located at 88.9° west longitude.

“Today’s successful launch of ViaSat-3 Americas opens a new chapter in Viasat’s growth,” said Mark Dankberg, Viasat’s chairman and CEO.

“This first Americas satellite will multiply our available bandwidth, and enable faster speeds and more coverage – especially for our mobility customers. It’s not just a new satellite, it’s a new way to build broadband satellites. Thanks so much to all our people, and our partners, for their commitment and dedication to getting this done.”

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