Ovzon 3
Ovzon 3 was built by Maxar using a Legion-class bus. At 1,500 kilograms, Ovzon’s first custom-built satellite is small compared to traditional geostationary communications satellites. Credit: Maxar/Ovzon/Proventus AB

TAMPA, Fla. — Redwire said Jan. 10 the two unfurlable solar array wings it provided for Ovzon 3, the first commercial satellite to use the space technology company’s Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) hardware, have successfully deployed in geostationary orbit.

Each 10-meter-long ROSA is operating nominally following Ovzon 3’s launch last week aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, Redwire announced, providing the 1,500-kilogram broadband satellite and its electric propulsion with a combined 10-kilowatts of power for a trip due to take several months to its final orbital position.

The successful deployment is welcome news for Swedish satcom service provider Ovzon, which ordered the satellite from prime contractor Maxar Technologies in 2018. Ovzon 3 was originally slated to launch in 2021 but was caught up in manufacturing issues unrelated to the solar arrays.

Redwire first demonstrated its ROSA technology on the International Space Station in 2017. The flexible arrays are rolled up for launch and allowed to unfurl once in orbit, using composite booms that function like springs to reduce complexity and moving parts compared with typical systems relying on motors.

NASA has since installed six of eight planned ROSAs from Redwire on the ISS. The eight solar arrays will increase the station’s power generation capability from 160 kilowatts to more than 255 kilowatts once fully installed later this year.

Redwire also provided the two solar array wings on NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft that deliberately collided with a near-Earth asteroid in 2022.

According to Redwire, the pair of ROSA wings it is developing to power the first segment of the NASA-led lunar Gateway, due to launch in late 2025, will be some of the most powerful spacecraft solar arrays ever built at 37 kilowatts each.

Ovzon 3 is due to enter service in the middle of 2024 if it passes in-orbit health checks after reaching its orbital slot at 59.7 degrees East, where it would provide mobile connectivity mainly to government customers, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Despite delays and unfortunate circumstances in the wake of the pandemic our strategy has been steadfast with the ultimate goal to launch Ovzon 3 and thus be able to support customers with critical missions,” Ovzon CEO Per Norén said via email.

He said Ovzon intends to evaluate the potential to expand the fleet with one or two more geostationary satellites later in 2024. Ovzon 3 would cover a third of the Earth, including Europe, extensive parts of Africa and Asia, and reaching as far as Japan.

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...