ITU warns Viasat that time is tight for EMEA launch
April 25, 2022
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which grants and regulates spectrum and frequency usage for satellite operators, has cautioned US-based Viasat that the clock is running on its plan to use Israeli frequencies for one of its planned satellites.
The ITU had approved Viasat’s use of the 13.8 degrees East orbital slot, and its Ka-band frequencies, held originally by Israel-based Spacecom and its Amos-17 satellite. The frequencies should have been used by Viasat’s second of its trio of ‘new generation’ Viasat-3 EMEA craft and been in place by next month on May 16th. This date is when the new satellite should have ‘brought into use’ the allocated frequencies.
The ITU had heard representations from Israel’s Communications Ministry asking for recognition that Covid and the inevitable delays in manufacturing were an allowable ‘force majeure’ and requesting that the slippage in getting the satellite into position should be allowed.
Viasat, in all fairness, did everything required of it in meeting the key date including ordering up rocket launches which – in normal times – would have seen their obligations met.
On March 18th the ITU’s powerful Radio Regulation Board (RRB) decided that Viasat and Israel had demonstrated a clear ‘force majeure’ because of Covid, but denied the pair’s request to set a new ‘bring into use’ date of August 31st 2023. Instead, the RRB insists that the new Viasat-3 EMEA craft be in position on or before July 29th 2023.
Viasat is evidently going to launch the satellite in late-March 2023, which is extremely tight in terms of then getting the satellite onto its target orbital slot.