In a Surprise, Boeing Lands ViaSat-2 Contract

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PARIS — Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems will build the ViaSat-2 Ka-band consumer broadband satellite for ViaSat Inc. and as part of the deal has entered into a partnership with ViaSat to sell ViaSat-2 services, the companies announced May 17.

Industry officials had long given the inside track for the ViaSat-2 contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif. Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat had ruled out Space Systems/Loral — the builder of the ViaSat-1 — because of a legal dispute over patent infringement in the construction of that satellite and a similar spacecraft built for ViaSat competitor Hughes.

ViaSat said the ViaSat-2, to be launched in mid-2016, will have about double “the bandwidth economics” of ViaSat-1, which has well over 100 gigabits per second of throughput capacity.

Germantown, Md.-based Hughes, owned by EchoStar of Englewood, Colo., recently purchased a second broadband satellite from Space Systems/Loral with some 160 gigabits per second of throughput.

In addition to doubling the ViaSat-1 capacity — assuming that is what ViaSat means by doubling bandwidth economics — ViaSat-2 will cover an area seven times as large as ViaSat-1, ViaSat said. The company said the satellite will be “by far, the world’s highest-capacity satellite at the time of launch.”

In addition to North America, ViaSat-2 will cover Central America and “a small portion” of South America, the Caribbean and “the primary aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe,” ViaSat said.

Boeing will use its 702HP platform for ViaSat-2. Specific satellite details such as power, launch mass, orbital slot and beam configuration were not immediately available.

“The ViaSat-2 architecture vastly increases the capacity of Ka-band satellite communications for customers who require faster data delivery while also providing for an extensive coverage area,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and chief executive, said in a prepared statement. “Cooperatively selling the architecture with Boeing will benefit future Boeing satellites through an increase in the mix of capacity and coverage, and we expect it to enable us to further expand the range and capabilities of our broadband services.”