TAMPA, Fla. — Swedish satcom service provider Ovzon’s first fully owned satellite lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 3, closing a chapter on years of launch and manufacturing setbacks for the broadband spacecraft.

The Ovzon 3 satellite launched toward geostationary orbit at 6:04 p.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, and separated from the rocket around 38 minutes later.

Maxar Technologies, Ovzon 3’s manufacturer, said it has successfully contacted the satellite, which is now due to spend several months climbing to its orbital slot at 59.7 degrees East by using onboard electric propulsion. Ovzon 3’s mobile connectivity services are slated to begin by the middle of the year if in-orbit health checks are successful.

Ovzon ordered the 1,500 kilogram satellite from Maxar in 2018 and had originally lined up a launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in 2021.

The company switched launch providers in 2019 after what it said was a better offer from Arianespace, only to miss a ride on one of the last remaining Ariane 5 rockets following pandemic-related production issues at Maxar. 

The Ovzon 3 mission was moved back to SpaceX in early 2023, but final assembly and testing delays — along with work taking longer than expected to switch to a Falcon 9 — pushed launch plans to late 2023, when poor weather bumped the mission to Jan. 3.

Ovzon twice had to get extensions from international regulators to the date it must begin providing services from the satellite or risk losing priority spectrum rights following the setbacks.

The latest regulatory extension pushed this deadline to July 4, which Ovzon CEO Per Norén said the company is on track to meet after the successful launch.

Ovzon was founded in 2006 with a focus on providing mobile satellite terminals, and later branched out to offer end-to-end connectivity services by leasing satellite capacity from third parties such as Intelsat.

The company provides broadband services mainly for government customers across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

While the U.S. Department of Defense has traditionally been Ovzon’s largest customer, the operator sees opportunities to expand across Europe with its own satellite, the first commercial geostationary spacecraft to be deployed by a privately funded Swedish company.

The satellite has five steerable beams and a reprogrammable onboard processor that acts as a mesh network to enable remote satellite terminals to operate independently of a teleport — a capability seeing rising demand from government customers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Ovzon.

Ovzon 3 marked SpaceX’s second launch of 2024 and was the 10th flight for the Falcon 9’s first stage booster. The booster successfully returned to a nearby landing zone around eight minutes after lift-off for future reuse.

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...