Maxar Technologies is building a new high-power satellite for EchoStar’s Hughes Network Systems. The craft is likely to suffer a delayed launch because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Jupiter-3 satellite is huge and capable of carrying up to 500 gigabit/second of transmissions. It was planned to launch in 2021 and serve North and South America and provide satellite-based broadband.
Maxar has sent letters to all its satellite clients warning them that delays could occur.
EchoStar has yet to select a launch provider “partly out of prudence” said EchoStar’s chief strategy officer Anders Johnson. EchoStar’s rationale is that once it places an order it would be obliged to make various stage payments to the launch contractor.
EchoStar admits that it is difficult to pin down a precise date when the satellite might be ready for launch and their best guess currently is later in the second-half of next year.
The extra capacity is needed. In the most recent quarter-year (to March 31st) EchoStar/Hughes said they had added 39,000 new subscribers taking their total to about 1.52 million.
EchoStar says that they do have some capacity on its existing Jupiter-2 satellite but not near city and urban areas where capacity demand is greatest. Capacity is also needed over South America. Recently, for example, Hughes – working with Facebook – has recently added more than 1000 WiFi hotspots in Brazil.