Tag Archive for: Satellite

Viasat is seeking to create hybrid narrowband direct-to-smartphone services using satellites in geostationary and non-geostationary orbits according to its CEO, Mark Dankberg, who spoke at the SmallSat Symposium in California on Feb. 8.

Viasat is open to partnering with low Earth orbit companies, including rival SpaceX. The acquisition of Inmarsat is still awaiting regulatory approval, and Viasat is focusing on improving payload integration to save space by looking at standardized cubesat-type form factors to allow new entrants into these systems.

Advances in technology are making it easier to communicate from orbit without large antennas or specialized phones, and direct-to-smartphone capabilities are becoming increasingly compelling. However, Viasat is aware of the potential negative impact of having any cell phone or smartwatch in the world connect directly to a space system, which is not consistent with the self-interest of many nations.

As direct-to-smartphone efforts pick up, it is likely to have knock-on effects across the rest of the space industry, including putting more mass into orbit, increasing the threat of collisions that could threaten the viability of space operations for all operators.

Dankberg told the SmallSat Symposium that while Viasat made its multi-billion dollar offer for Inmarsat because of its international broadband presence, its direct-to-smartphone narrowband capabilities are increasingly compelling.

He said “one of the biggest potential markets is direct-to-device,” which is “going to have a big influence, both positive and negative when it comes to … the self-interest of nations.”

Advances in technology and telecom protocol standardization are making it easier to communicate to and from orbit without large antennas or specialized phones. 

“It’s possible to control that,” Dankberg said, “but when any cell phone in the world, or smartwatch … within your borders can connect to a space system directly, that is not consistent with the self-interest of quite a few nations in the world.”

Small LEO satellites have been getting larger to improve their capabilities as launch economics improve, Dankberg noted.

He pointed to how SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites have increased from about 250 kilograms to the 2,000-kilogram range to add new capabilities, such as direct-to-smartphone services, into its second-generation broadband constellation.

Viasat believes “you do not need very large satellites to accomplish missions in space,” Dankberg said, and is focusing on improving payload integration to save space.

“We’re looking at standardized cubesat-type form factors that we think we can buy that will create a vibrant ecosystem,” he added, “to allow many new entrants into these into these systems.”

Viasat is still waiting on regulatory approvals from the United Kingdom and European to buy Inmarsat after announcing the deal in November 2021.

The statuary deadline for the U.K.’s competition watchdog to decide on the deal is March 30, Raymond James analyst Ric Prentiss said in a recent investor note, and “then the last remaining hurdle would be the European Commission which could potentially elongate the timeline.”

Viasat, which recently completed the $2 billion sale of its tactical data communications business, reported $651 million in revenue from continuing operations in the three months to the end of December, up 4% year-on-year.

Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, declined 15% to $139 million. 

The operator also disclosed an extra few weeks of delays for its debut next-generation ViaSat-3 satellite, designed to add significant amounts of capacity over the Americas, which is now slated for a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in the week of April 8.

The second ViaSat-3, covering Europe, Middle East, and Africa, is counting down to a September launch on one of United Launch Alliance’s last Atlas launches.

AWS ground stations in Oregon, Ohio, Bahrain, Stockholm, Sydney, Ireland, Cape Town, Hawaii, Seoul, Singapore and Punta Arenas, Chile

According to Atlas chief technology officer and co-founder Brad Bode, Atlas Space Operations are set to dramatically expand its network after gaining access to Amazon Web Stations (AWS) Ground Stations.

Atlas, a ground software as a service company based in Michigan, is gaining access to 11 ground antenna sites through the AWS Solution Provider ProgramAtlas already manages 13 ground stations around the world.

Atlas joined the AWS Solution Provider Program after an extensive review process.

This Partner Solution deploys MongoDB Atlas on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. MongoDB Atlas helps to ensure availability, scalability, and security compliance by using automation to maintain performance at scale as your applications evolve. Extend your data to support any workload that uses MongoDB’s application data platform, including full-text search and real-time analytics. For a fully managed MongoDB cluster, try it for free on AWS Marketplace.

This Partner Solution is for developers and DevOps professionals who want to deploy flexible, fully managed databases on AWS using MongoDB Atlas. By default, the template creates an Atlas project with a standard, single-Region, M10 cluster that can be customized for different configurations and project settings.

“They looked at our architecture, validated it, and gave us the thumbs up to resell their product,” Bode said on Feb. 8 at the SmallSat Symposium here.

For Atlas customers, the additional antennas will provide flexibility, Bode said. “When you realize that another ground station would be a better solution or you launch more satellites and need more services, you can expand easily because it’s all behind one single software interface,” he added.

Atlas provides customers with ground services through its Freedom software, which offers updates on satellite operations and scheduling for communications passes as well as providing access for telemetry, tracking and command.

AWS entered the ground station business in 2018 with a focus on helping Earth-observation constellations move data directly from satellites into the AWS cloud for processing and storage.


LuxSpace which is an OHB subsidiary plans to fly DcubeD actuators and other hosted payloads on its upcoming Triton-X Genesis mission.

Both, DcubeD and LuxSpace share the same goal of enabling missions to take their capabilities to the next level and look forward to demonstrating their new technologies with their upcoming mission.

LuxSpace intends to validate key components of its Triton-X small satellite platform through Triton-X Genesis, slated to travel to low-Earth orbit later this year on a Momentus Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle.

Triton-X is LuxSpace’s ultimate platform for micro to mini-LEO smallsat systems. Designed as “multi-purpose” cost-effective products, the scalable and powerful Triton-X platforms are easily adaptable to various typologies of LEO missions and payloads, also in small and/or hybrid constellations.

Launching hosted payloads on Triton-X Genesis “is actually a model that would be interesting to repeat because the economics are good,” LuxSpace CEO Edgar Milic told SpaceNews.

Triton-X, a multi-mission satellite with extensive onboard processing, is designed to accommodate payloads of 50 to 250 kilograms. The European Space Agency provided funding for Triton-X through the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems program.

In late 2022, the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich announced plans to buy a LuxSpace Triton-X Heavy satellite for Seranis, a small satellite mission with 15 experiments. Seranis, which stands for Seamless Radio Access Network for Internet of Space, includes technology demonstrations related to 6G mobile communications, laser communication, and the Internet of Things.

DcubeD, based in Bavaria, Germany, provides release actuators and deployables for small satellite applications. 

LuxSpace (CEO Edgar Milic) was established in Luxembourg in 2004 as a subsidiary of OHB SE and is an integrated provider of small satellites and space-based applications and services. The company can look back on seven successfully launched space systems, including the Triton-2/ESAIL satellite launched, and has over 16 years of experience in data applications with a particular focus on the maritime sector and Earth observation.

SpaceX launched the Amazonas Nexus telecoms satellite on Feb. 6, which will help Spanish operator Hispasat’s Americas expansion while carrying a payload for the U.S. Space Force.

Amazonas Nexus was expected to lift off on Feb. 5, but because of poor weather conditions it lifted off on a Falcon 9 at 8:32 p.m on Feb. 6. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

The separation of the satellite from the rocket happened about 36 minutes later to begin its journey to geostationary orbit over the next few months using onboard electric propulsion.

Signal acquisition was successfully achieved at 9.26 p.m. Eastern, according to Hispasat spokesperson Víctor Inchausti.

Just over eight minutes after lift-off, the Falcon 9’s first stage landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for reuse. 

SpaceX had previously used the booster to launch the SES-22 broadcast satellite, a lunar lander for ispace, and three Starlink broadband missions.

It was SpaceX’s 170th landing of an orbital class rocket, including Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions.

Amazonas Nexus is set to replace and expand the capacity of Hispasat’s Amazonas 2 satellite at 61 degrees west, which will cover the Americas, Greenland, and North Atlantic transportation routes.

Built by Europe’s Thales Alenia Space, Amazonas Nexus is designed to primarily provide high-throughput Ku-band capacity to Hispasat’s aviation, maritime, and rural broadband customers. The 4,500-kilogram satellite uses Ka-band feeder links for telemetry and control.

Also onboard is a high-bandwidth protected communications transponder for the Space Force called Pathfinder 2.

The hosted payload is the third Pathfinder mission designed to use existing commercial technologies to provide wideband alternatives for the Space Force’s satellite communications needs.

Hispasat, Thales, communications provider Hunter Communications, and secure network systems integrator Airtel — which led the project — secured a contract for the payload in 2020.

Charlotte Gerhart, chief of Tactical SATCOM Acquisition Delta at Space Systems Command, the Space Force body overseeing the procurement of new technology, said the mission demonstrates a “high degree of partnership between military and commercial” acquisition.

“Pathfinder 2 satisfies warfighter requirements by procuring commercially provided pre-launch transponders and securing bandwidth at a lower total ownership cost,” Gerhart said in a statement.

Hispasat is also looking to use Amazonas Nexus to expand its presence in sustainability projects after investing in Spain’s largest reforestation project.