ViaSat partners with ESA on ViaSat-3 communications

ViaSat is currently planning ViaSat-3ViaSat has announced a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop key components of the ViaSat-3 satellite communications system with European industry.

ViaSat-3 is an ultra-high capacity satellite platform, comprising three Ka-band satellites with a ground network infrastructure.

Each ViaSat-3 satellite will offer more than 1-Terabit per second (Tbps) of network capacity, which is comparable to the total capacity of all commercial satellites in space today.

The platform is expected to give home consumers greater choice in their Internet Service Provider (ISP) by enabling 100+ Megabits per second (Mbps) broadband speeds to the home.

The €68M PPP, known as Project AIDAN, has been kicked off with an initial €31.2m and is co-funded by ESA with the support of three of its Member States (Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania), ViaSat and others within the European industry.

This program will focus on developing and productising two key innovative components of the ViaSat-3 satellite ground segment, which include:

• Fixed and mobile user terminals, including the development of a fully-electronic phased array for residential broadband, in-flight Wi-Fi and connected car applications; and
• Ground segment equipment and gateways for the ViaSat-3 network, which include the Satellite Access Node (SAN) subsystems for a cloud-based ground network infrastructure.

Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications said: “The PPP with ViaSat will bring ESA and industry together to quickly develop broadband products that will serve the needs of millions of consumers across Europe who are currently without adequate internet service.

“We believe this is a significant industrial opportunity that will keep Europe at the forefront of satellite and broadband technology development, giving Europe a leading position on the deployment of a next-generation broadband system with advanced ground networks and consumer equipment.”

ViaSat Chairman and CEO, Mark added continued, “ESA aims to foster space innovation and promote a strong space economy. As a global company with a growing presence in Europe, we are proud to partner and tap into the space interests of ESA, the Member States and European industry.

“Our new Public Private Partnership with ESA will develop and bring-to-market new satellite-based broadband technologies to ensure European citizens have access to affordable, high-quality internet services.”

Products under the PPP are expected to be available in 2019. This timing will enable adequate testing of all equipment with the ViaSat-3 constellation.

While there is no mention of inflight connectivity in the announcement, the establishment of Ka-band ground stations in Europe will no doubt go some way to aiding the company’s global aspirations for its airborne solutions over ViaSat-3.

Plans are well advanced for its next-generation range of satellites.

“The first ViaSat-3 has passed its Critical Design Review (CDR) with Boeing and we are gearing up for a launch in early 2020,” Don Buchman, ViaSat’s Director of Mobile Broadband, told “Get Connected” at September’s Apex Expo.

“The first satellite in the ViaSat-3 series will be positioned to serve the Americas; the second launched six months later will cover Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and the third, perhaps six months after that, will cover Asia-Pacific.

“We are putting our efforts into ViaSat-3, both for aviation and other multiple markets,” he said.

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