TAMPA, Fla. — SES said June 15 that Luxembourg has approved a program to carve out capacity from its O3b mPower medium Earth orbit (MEO) broadband network for the country and NATO allies.

Luxembourg’s government is acquiring 195 million euros ($211 million) worth of O3b mPower capacity under the 10-year MEO Global Services (MGS) program, targeting defense, security, and disaster recovery missions.

Capacity from the operator’s next-generation constellation is being made available for other sovereign government missions under a NATO contracting vehicle set up last year in partnership with the United States.

The U.S. Space Force has allocated $59 million in its proposed 2024 budget to buy services from O3b mPower, which is slated to provide initial services this year following the launch of two more satellites. 

SpaceX had been slated to launch the fifth and sixth of 11 Boeing-built O3b mPower satellites from Florida in early June; however, Luxembourg-based SES said June 12 they were still undergoing tests at manufacturing facilities in El Segundo, California.

Each O3b mPower satellite is designed to scale up to multiple gigabits per second of throughput, about 10 times more throughput than those in the 20-strong first-generation O3b constellation.

Outgoing SES CEO Steve Collar described parliamentary approval for MGS as an important step in Luxembourg’s defense space strategy to bolster government satellite communications capabilities.

Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense François Bausch said in February that the program would consolidate its position as a reliable partner in space, and help “reinforce Euro-Atlantic joint deterrence and defence” activities.

Governments do not typically sign up for new constellations until they are in service and have truly proven capabilities.

However, Luxembourg has a symbiotic relationship with publicly listed SES. They also have a public-private joint venture called GovSat that has its own satellite dedicated to governmental and institutional users.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...