SES-15 enters service for inflight connectivity providers

SES-15 satellite. Image: Boeing.
SES-15 satellite. Image: Boeing.

SES says its new SES-15 spacecraft has been operational at the 129 degrees West orbital position since 1 January. The all-electric satellite took six months to reach its orbital position and to successfully complete its testing.

The company says the satellite’s high-throughput payload will deliver optimised and flexible coverage for major global inflight connectivity and entertainment (IFC/IFE) service providers, such as Global Eagle, Gogo and Panasonic Avionics.

In addition, it has a dedicated wide beam that is designed to enable IFC/IFE providers to deliver live TV content on all flight routes across the US, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.

This combination of beams allows IFC/IFE providers to optimise HTS capacity use for internet traffic and wide beam coverage for broadcast content.

The satellite carries a hybrid payload, comprising Ku-band wide beams and Ku-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) spot beam capability, with connectivity to gateways in Ka-band.

This is SES’s first hybrid satellite and is equipped with 16 Ku-band transponders as well as HTS capabilities to serve North America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

SES-15 also carries a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) hosted payload, which will enable the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to augment existing Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with the goal of improving accuracy, integrity and availability of the system for the aviation industry.

SES-15 was successfully launched on board a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on 18 May 2017.

Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES, said, “An operational SES-15 has been much anticipated by our customers. The hybrid satellite, which has both wide beams and high-throughput capability, empowers our aeronautical customers to offer even faster connectivity speeds to airlines.

“In addition, the WAAS hosted payload will enable the US FAA to improve GPS. The Boeing, Arianespace and SES teams have done an excellent job in making this possible.”

SES-15 will be followed by the launches of two more hybrid geostationary (GEO) satellites with wide beam/HTS capabilities, SES-14 and SES-12, as well as another four O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites in the near future.

SES-14 will serve the Americas and the Atlantic region, and SES-12 will cover Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East. Together with SES-17, another HTS which will be launched in 2021, they will offer a global, multi-frequency system for aeronautical, maritime, government and enterprise customers.

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