SES is just a few weeks away from launching its next – and significantly more powerful – batch of O3b satellites. SES is anticipating the launch of three new satellites in Q1 to join the existing O3b fleet of Medium Earth orbiting (MEO) craft.
The second batch of another three will launch in Q2. These six, now called mPOWER satellites, will significantly increase the size, power and flexibility of the existing O3b constellation which already comprises 20 satellites and serving customers in some 50 countries. Another trio (mPOWER 7-8-9) of satellites will launch.
Boeing is building the new versions and SpaceX is contracted to launch the two initial batches from Cape Canaveral on its Falcon 9 rockets. Boeing’s order is for a total of 11 mPOWER craft of which 9 will launch this year, and the first six coming into service.
These additions to the O3b fleet are massively powerful satellites. O3b mPOWER delivers flexible service models by dynamically controlling power levels, throughput, and frequency allocation to reliably meet robust service level agreements. This results in up to 5000 different beams of extremely flexible capacity and offering what SES describes as “fibre-equivalent” network bandwidth.
The capacity on the fleet is one of the key appeals of the service and why it has been contracted by Microsoft for its Azure Network Cloud Services. Microsoft says it plans to leverage the MEO high-performance connectivity services to showcase its Azure Orbital solutions that integrate satellite connectivity with Azure services. Microsoft will use SES’s current MEO craft to provide connectivity now before migrating to O3b mPOWER in 2022.
“Microsoft deploying our ground-breaking O3b mPOWER system is yet another step in our collaboration to bring high-performance, low latency Azure cloud services to customers around the globe,” said JP Hemingway, CEO/SES Networks. “O3b mPOWER will introduce new levels of cloud-scale satellite connectivity, intelligent automation and managed services that extend the reach and unleash the capabilities of cloud players like never before.”
The O3b fleet serves some 96 percent of the planet’s global population and operates between the 50 degrees North and 50 degrees South latitudes. They offer extremely appealing low latency of some 150 millieconds.
SES will unveil its full-year results in February and will update the market on plans for mPOWER’s launch and its forecasts for 2022’s revenue prospects. The market is expecting further growth from the mPOWER fleet even though these six initial additional craft will not come into full operation much before Q4 this year.