Posted inCommercial

ViaSat Cites Big Savings in Picking Falcon Heavy for 2016 Launch

PARIS — ViaSat Inc. said its selection of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the ViaSat-2 Ka-band broadband satellite in mid-2016 was driven by Falcon Heavy’s “ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next-closest launch vehicle at only one-third the cost.”

Falcon Heavy, which uses three aligned Falcon 9 core stages, each with nine engines, is expected to make its inaugural flight this year. ViaSat-2, under construction by Boeing Space and Intelligence of El Segundo, California, is expected to weigh 6,400 kilograms at launch.

ViaSat-2 will operate from geostationary orbit and will provide the equivalent of more than double the power of the existing ViaSat-1 spacecraft and reach a geographic area seven times the size of ViaSat-1 coverage. It will also extend ViaSat’s mobile broadband coverage to the Atlantic sea and air corridors, and to the Caribbean.

ViaSat expects to use ViaSat-2 to complement the capacity offered by ViaSat-1 to “offer more data with all of our service plans,” ViaSat Chief Executive Mark D. Dankberg said in a statement. “We can do that by building a network with lots more capacity at a cost that will attract more customers. That’s what this new class of satellite is designed to do.”


Peter B. de Selding

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.