ILS launches ‘super giant’ satellite

An International Launch Services Proton-M rocket successfully launched a huge satellite into orbit for ViaSat on October 19th. The satellite has the largest-ever capacity throughput, at a staggering 140 Gb/s. The satellite is about the size of a double-deck bus (without its solar panels deployed) and weighs in at 6.7 tonnes. Space Systems/Loral built the craft. It was the heaviest ever satellite launched by a Proton rocket.

ViaSat-1 size, and complexity, is impressive. It can handle twice the throughput of Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat which itself is a huge beast capable of handling up to 70 Gb/s, but ViaSat’s new satellite is offering up more Ka-band capacity than previously existed over the whole of North America. ViaSat markets its broadband service under the WildBlue brand.

California-based ViaSat’s technology trick – and Eutelsat uses the same technology – is to re-use frequencies with multiple spot beams. These highly-focussed beams can deliver high speed satellite broadband across the continental USA, as well as Hawaii, and Canada. 63 spot beams will look at the USA and nine operate over Canada. These nine are owned by Telesat of Canada and will be used for its Xplornet broadband service.

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