What is ViaSat-3?
ViaSat-3 is a constellation of three ultra-high-capacity Ka-band geostationary satellites currently in production. The first and second payloads have already been sent to Boeing Satellite Systems for integration with the 702MP+ bus (spacecraft). This is a modified version of Boeing’s 702 bus with a good deal more power (20kW), and they are expected to make the ViaSat-3 satellites some of the most high-powered ones ever built. To produce that power, the four solar panels of the traditional 702MP have been bumped to eight. These solar cells are similar to the ones used in the original Apollo moon missions and have powered more than 1,000 satellites around the globe.
What areas will be serviced by ViaSat-3?
The first satellite is planned to cover the Americas. The second is set to cover EMEA — Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The third is planned to cover Asia-Pacific (APAC). Once in place, the three satellites are expected to provide near global coverage for land, air, and sea. They are also expected to enable space relays between satellites in different orbits, enhancing the ability of Earth-observation satellites and others to download data much more quickly.
What is the capacity of each satellite?
Each ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to have more than 1 Terabit per second (Tbps) of throughput capacity, making them the highest-capacity broadband satellites ever launched.
Which markets will VS-3 will serve?
From air to land to sea, ViaSat-3 satellites will serve homes, businesses, communities, airlines, business jets, and enterprise such as energy, militaries and governments. As each satellite launches, service in that region will “turn on.”
What’s unique about ViaSat-3?
The three satellites have some unique and proprietary elements that make them quite different from other satellites launched previously by Viasat:
· Capacity, as noted above. Today, our combined fleet has about 500 Gbps of capacity, so this constellation is expected to increase that by up to 600%. This enormous boost in capacity is expected to enable Viasat to provide faster speeds and the ability to manage a great deal more data — of particular importance as the data needs of the world have increased tremendously since the advent of video streaming and other data-intensive applications.
· Power: These satellites will each have 20kW of power, making them among the highest-powered satellites ever built. The power system on the satellite was updated from Boeing’s heritage 702MP bus to include eight rather than four solar panels, as well as upgraded batteries and power distribution system. That boost is necessary to power the sophisticated electronics at the core of the satellite’s tremendous capacity.
· Size: Once deployed in space, the ViaSat-3 satellites will be significantly larger than most other geostationary satellites, with an overall wingspan of 144 feet — about half a football field — and weighing 5,600-6,000kg (about 6.5 tons).
· Weight: The ViaSat-3 satellites will be the lightest satellites that Viasat has ever launched, despite their added capacity.
o ViaSat-1: 6,740kg
o ViaSat-2: 6,417kg
o ViaSat-3: 5,600-6000kg
· The mass reduction was enabled through the high degree of integration of the satellite payload and use of electric propulsion technology.
· Flexibility: With most satellites, the area they will cover is predetermined prior to launch, with little or no ability to shift capacity from one area to another. Each ViaSat-3 satellite is highly flexible, meaning its capacity can be reallocated to different areas based on need.
· Similar boom to the James Webb Space Telescope
The long boom arm for the large reflector on each ViaSat-3 satellite is a direct derivative of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) sunshade mid-booms. These booms were a mission-critical item for JWST, and VS-3 uses a larger version of these telescoping booms.
Where are the ViaSat-3 satellites being built?
Our Tempe, AZ facility is where all three payloads for the ViaSat-3 constellation are being built, but many Viasat employees from around the world have contributed to the project. Once complete, the payloads are integrated with the Boeing 702MP+ platform to create the complete satellite. (The first integration is already complete.) That work is taking place at Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, CA.
How will ViaSat-3 address the digital divide around the world?
Terrestrial internet service providers are generally able to do a good job serving areas with high-density populations. But once customers are less concentrated, those ISPs lose interest since it’s not economically feasible. That’s left a big gap in internet availability for people all over the world — not just in remote areas but in and around cities and exurban areas where gaps exist in terrestrial coverage.
Viasat’s satellite coverage is not constrained in that manner because our service comes directly to the end user via a small antenna. Right now, Viasat Internet for residential customers is available to 99% of the population of the United States. And, because delivering internet via satellite requires minimal infrastructure, the ViaSat-3 constellation can address those gaps with a much better speed-to-market scenario. Where it might take years to build out terrestrial infrastructure, satellite can be available in a new market within months just about anywhere — including in high-population areas not served by terrestrial providers.
When will the ViaSat-3 satellites launch?
For the first ViaSat-3 satellite over The Americas, service launch to support commercial services is anticipated in the first quarter of 2023 (Viasat’s Q4 for fiscal year 2023). The second ViaSat-3 payload (EMEA) shipped to Boeing July 8, 2022. Its service launch is anticipated for 2023. The launch date of the third satellite over APAC is TBD.
Are there plans for a ViaSat-4 satellite?
Yes, Viasat is already at work on the design and planning of its next generation of ultra-high-capacity satellites.
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