ViaSat Cites Big Savings in Picking Falcon Heavy for 2016 Launch

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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.”