Viasat asks for ITU launch extension
March 16, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Pandemic-related issues, plus general supply side component difficulties, have severely delayed the launch of a Viasat satellite designed to operate over Europe and the MENA regions.
Viasat-3/EMEA had been originally planned to launch on an early flight of an Ariane 6 rocket around the middle of 2022 and as part of a trio of Generation 3 satellites for Viasat. Viasat has already switched the EMEA launch from Arianespace to a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
The first Viasat-3, to serve the Americas, is booked onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket later this summer. The second, was Viasat’s EMEA project, and in addition to its own problems Viasat was suffering considerable delays in the Ariane 6 programme outside of its control.
Viasat has asked the ITU for permission to delay bringing the satellite into use. Viasat says that Covid and general ‘force majeure’ problems have created delays. It was originally expected to ‘bring back into use’ the satellite in May of this year. Viasat is now asking the ITU for a 15-month extension until the end of August 2023.
The ‘bringing back into use’ complication is because Israel, which is Viasat’s sponsoring government for the EMEA project, actually ‘brought into use’ the frequencies in mid-2019 with the launch of Israel’s Amos-17 satellite. The Amos satellite stayed at 13.8 degrees East for a sufficient period of time to claim the slot and frequencies for Viasat. Amos-17 subsequently moved to 17 degrees East.
The ITU has to consider the request at an upcoming meeting in mid-October.