TAMPA, Fla. — Ovzon will likely need another deadline extension to keep priority spectrum rights for Ovzon 3, the Swedish satcom service provider’s first broadband satellite now slated to launch no earlier than late 2023.
The company said June 22 that Ovzon 3 will miss a July-September launch window because of final assembly and testing delays, in addition to work taking longer than expected to change launch providers from Arianespace to SpaceX.
Ovzon 3 was already at risk of missing a Dec. 31 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadline to start providing services from its designated geostationary orbit slot if it was deployed late in the previous launch window.
Because the Maxar Technologies-built satellite will rely on electric propulsion, it will take several months to climb to its slot at 59.7 degrees East after reaching geostationary transfer orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
Ovzon announced in February that it had switched launch providers after manufacturing delays caused Ovzon 3 to miss a ride on one of Arianespace’s last remaining Ariane 5 missions.
A month later, Ovzon said the satellite’s Dec. 15, 2022, Bring into Use deadline had been extended a year by the ITU, a United Nations affiliate.
Ovzon 3 was originally planned to launch in 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy before the company secured a more attractive deal with Arianespace and encountered manufacturing delays that have been attributed to pandemic-related supply chain issues.
Systems-level dynamics tests that Maxar is due to start in early July will significantly reduce schedule risk and enable Ovzon to give a more accurate launch date, Ovzon said in a June 22 news release announcing the delay.
Ovzon described these tests as the last major milestone for finalizing the spacecraft.
“Maxar is in the final stages of integration and test on Ovzon 3 after addressing modifications related to the change of launch vehicle,” Maxar spokesperson Mark Lewis said in response to questions about the satellite’s latest delay.
“Like Ovzon has said, we are working together to ensure the satellite is ready for launch as soon as possible.”
Per Norén, Ovzon’s CEO, said in a statement that he does not anticipate any further lengthy delays for the program.
“We are excited to be in this final phase and for the overall high quality of the satellite, but this is not the time for haste nor being overly optimistic about the importance of the remaining tasks,” he said.
Ovzon’s current broadband business relies on leasing capacity from other satellite operators.
Despite the delays, Norén said the operational and commercial model for its first satellite remains solid and is “more relevant today than ever.”
Ovzon said the satellite’s latest delay would also not affect its current commercial activities.
The company has previously said Ovzon-3’s manufacturing delays have increased the project’s overall cost by around $25 million.