Advanced Television

US Space Force seeks LEO broadband guidance

March 31, 2021

The US Space Force has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to the world’s emerging Low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellite operators (and would-be operators) for guidance on how the Space Force might buy broadband LEO services in the future.

The Space Force’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office, acts as a centralised operation which acquires satellite-based communications on behalf of other US government agencies including the Department of Defense. The Office has absorbed the activity of the old COMSATCOM functions.

The RfP asks suppliers to confirm what they expect to supply but lays down a maximum transfer rate for terminals at 50 milliseconds between the satellite/s and the user terminal. It asks for additional information for propagation delays between a user terminal and satellite not “greater than 15 milliseconds”.

The Space Force is blunt, saying: “Services with higher latencies are not of interest for this RFI.”

The RFI is potentially good news for the likes of Elon Musk’s Starlink and perhaps also OneWeb along with Telesat’s Lightspeed LEO system. Down the line it could also add an incentive to Jeff Bezos’ and his Project Kuiper LEO service.

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