WASHINGTON — Mexican telco Apco Networks said March 14 it has ordered two small satellites from Astranis for a launch toward geostationary orbit (GEO) next year.
The satellites are part of a third batch of satellites Astranis plans to launch together on an undisclosed dedicated rocket, Astranis CEO and cofounder John Gedmark told SpaceNews at the Satellite 2023 conference here.
Astranis would operate the satellites on behalf of Apco Networks, which Gedmark said are Mexico’s first dedicated high-throughput Ka-band satellites.
Apco Networks currently leases satellite capacity from third-party GEO operators to provide connectivity to consumer, enterprise, and government customers in Mexico.
“These two dedicated Astranis satellites will allow us to provide reliable connectivity countrywide,” Apco Networks CEO Orlando Castillo said in a statement.
Alaska-focused Arcturus, the first commercial satellite built by Astranis and the only spacecraft in its first batch, is slated to launch next month on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy carrying Viasat’s inaugural ViaSat-3 as its primary customer.
A second batch of four Astranis satellites is slated to ride on a dedicated SpaceX Falcon 9 mission in late summer. Two of these are for mobile satellite connectivity specialist Anuvu, one is for Peru-based cellular backhaul provider Andesat, and the fourth is for a customer Astranis has yet to announce.
Gedmark said the company also has customers for other satellites joining its third batch that he declined to discuss.
At under 400 kilograms, each Astranis satellite is much smaller than a traditional GEO communications satellite that typically weighs thousands of kilograms, and is scaled to provide smaller geographies with targeted bandwidth at lower costs.
Satellites in Astranis’ second and third batches include a gimbal in their electric propulsion system that gives them an extra year of operational life compared to Arcturus, which is designed to operate for seven years.
There is no significant leap in performance between the Californian startup’s second and third batches of satellites, according to Gedmark.