SES wins NASA contract
May 10, 2022
By Chris Forrester
SES Government Solution (SES GS) division has secured a valuable NASA contract.
The new NASA business comes in partnership with Planet Labs PBC (Planet), and has been awarded in the form of a Funded Space Act Agreement from NASA’s Communications Services Project (CSP) to support the development and demonstration of near-Earth communication services in support of NASA’s future mission needs.
SES GS is partnering with Planet to develop a real-time always-on low-latency connectivity solution enabled by SES’s geostationary (GEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) constellations, including O3b mPOWER, to further NASA missions. Planet brings over a decade of experience in designing and manufacturing cutting-edge low-cost Earth observation satellites and radio communication systems.
SES GS has been awarded nearly $29 million (€27.4m) through NASA’s Funded Space Act Agreement to demonstrate commercial radio frequency GEO C-band and MEO Ka-band relay networks for SATCOM services to spacecraft in low earth orbit. These services include routine missions, contingency operations, launch and ascent, and early operations phase communications, says a company statement.
SES says the solution proposed by SES GS will deliver robust, reliable and cost-effective mission-oriented operations, enabling high-rate and high-capacity two-way communications. Under the agreement, the company will complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025, with NASA intending to seek multiple long-term contracts to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030. The adoption of agile and innovative SATCOM service will support NASA in phasing out its proprietary systems, as well as other NASA-operated systems.
“We are excited to showcase our second-generation satellite constellation — O3b mPOWER — that will enable high data rates coupled with low-latency data relay communications to and from near-Earth orbit NASA assets,” said President/CEO of SES Government Solutions, Brigadier General Pete Hoene, USAF (retired). “Combining the multi-orbit capabilities of SES, the global leader in delivering content and connectivity solutions via satellite, with that of Planet Labs, one of the world’s leading commercial imaging companies, will create the world’s first high-throughput commercial space relay service, enabling timely and data-driven decisions.”