Rivada orders 12 launches with SpaceX
March 3, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Munich-based Rivada Space Networks (RSN), which is building a 300-satellite constellation, has ordered 12 rocket launches with SpaceX. The launches are planned to happen between April 2025 and June 2026.
Rivada is on a tight timetable to get its initial constellation into space and to meet its obligations with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
RSN has ordered an initial 300 satellites from Terran Orbital with an option for a further 300. To avoid losing these spectrum rights under the ITU’s constellation milestone rules, Rivada must deploy 50 per cent of the satellites in these filings by mid-2026 and the rest by mid-2028.
The Rivada project is supported by Liechtenstein’s Office for Communications, but RSN’s parent company is Rivada Networks of Washington DC.
Liechtenstein’s regulator has written to the ITU’s Radio Regulations Board saying that the SpaceX order will translate into one launch a week from its Vandenberg spaceport if needed.
The project calls for one higher-orbit direct insertion launch to RSN’s 1050 kms altitude in order to secure the ITU’s ‘bringing into use’ regulations. The other launches will go to a more traditional transfer orbit and use each satellite’s electric thrusters to manoeuvre into positions.
Mark Rigolle, who was CFO at SES for a time and was LeoSat’s former CEO, along with Ronald van der Breggen (CCO) and Diederik Kelder (CSO), are now at the helm of Rivada. Within months of forming, Rivada issued an RFP for the production of 600 satellites, targeting a first launch in 2024, global coverage in 2026, and full deployment by 2028. That schedule has already slipped to a first launch of four satellites “as early as 2025”, with subsequent launches thereafter, says a report on Rivada by Quilty Analytics.