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Boeing readies mPOWER pair for launch

May 9, 2023

By Chris Forrester

SES needs six of its O3b/mPOWER satellites in orbit to kick-start its global service. Four are already in orbit out of the eleven that will eventually complete the constellation. Boeing is wrapping up the next two (mPOWER 5 and 6) in readiness for launch in June on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

SES CEO Steve Collar confirmed that the operator on track to deploy initial services late in the third quarter of this year.

mPOWER 3 and 4, launched on April 28th, are slowly making their way to their Medium Earth orbits and using their on-board all-electrical thrusters to make the journey. Electric propulsion is highly efficient and allows the satellites to maximise their in-service orbital lives.

Each mPOWER satellite will operate at about 10-times of the power and capacity of the original O3b satellites.

Bringing O3b mPOWER to market is one of the key objectives for SES this year, Collar said, following satellite production issues that derailed original plans to begin deploying the constellation in 2021.

Indeed, Carl Murdoch-Smith, an analyst at investment bank Berenberg, said that this quarter-year’s results for SES was “The first time in seven quarters that SES has not announced a launch delay at its results. We had expected mPOWER 5-6 to be pushed back to Q3 2023, so we view this as a positive development.”

Berenberg added that it expected SES, beyond 2024, SES was looking to maintain adjusted net debt / EBITDA of below 3.0x.

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