Category Archives: Rocket Launches

ViaSat-2 satellite now scheduled to launch on June 1, 2017

An artist's impression of the ViaSat-2 satellite. Image: Boeing.

An artist’s impression of the ViaSat-2 satellite. Image: Boeing.

ViaSat has confirmed the scheduled launch date for the ViaSat-2 satellite is June 1, 2017.

The ViaSat-2 satellite will launch aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The satellite will be sent into geostationary transfer orbit by the launch vehicle and will provide broadband services from an orbital slot located at 69.9° west longitude.

The ViaSat-2 satellite system is expected to significantly improve speeds, reduce costs and expand the footprint of broadband services across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, a portion of northern South America, as well as the primary aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.

The Ka-band geostationary satellite was designed to offer high-capacity connectivity and wide coverage, with the flexibility to move capacity to where demand requires it.

The company says the satellite is expected to double the bandwidth of ViaSat-1, with more than 300 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of total network capacity, as well as providing seven times the broadband coverage over its predecessor.

ViaSat-2 is expected to enter service in early calendar year 2018.

At the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Mobility at ViaSat, said its Gen 2 equipment, which will enable compatibility between the ViaSat-1, -2 and -3 satellites, will be available to install in May.

“What we’re bringing to the in-flight internet market is so drastically different than anything else. We’re delivering a vertically-integrated system – from the satellite to the terminal and the access points on the aircraft – that is optimised to keep pace with the most powerful communications satellites in the world – ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3,” said Buchman.

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ViaSat-2 satellite now scheduled to launch on June 1, 2017 was last modified: April 27th, 2017 by Steve Nichols

DoS plans to launch 3 satellites in H1 of FY18 to boost transponder capacity

MUMBAI: After failing to meet the earlier deadline, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch GSAT 11, 17 and 19 in the first half of the financial year, the Department of Space (DoS) told the parliamentary committee on science, technology, environment and forests.

The launch of these three communication satellites will help the government in providing more Ku-band transponders to the growing direct-to-home (DTH) industry.

Minister of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) Venkaiah Naidu recently said that there was a committed demand from the DTH service providers for 68 more transponders. The total satellite transponder capacity used by the DTH operators presently stands at 104 transponders.

ISRO was planning to launch GSAT 11 and GSAT 17 during the fourth quarter of 2016 onboard Ariane-5 Launch Vehicle, while GSAT 19 was scheduled to be launched during first quarter of 2017 by GSLV-Mk III-D1 Launcher from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.

The DoS had planned to launch 14 communication satellites during the 12th Plan period for (a) increasing the transponder capacity; (b) introducing new-generation broadband VSAT systems; (c) introduction of Ka-band systems; (d) building high-power S-band satellite mobile communications; and (e) introducing new-generation geo-imaging satellite.

However, the committee noted that the department could manage to launch only seven communication satellites, namely GSAT-10, GSAT-14, GSAT-16, GSAT-7, GSAT-6, GSAT-15 and GSAT-18, during the 12th Plan period.

The committee stated in the report that it was imperative that the department accordingly strategise its action plan so as to keep pace with the increasing demand for the transponders and achieve the targets set for the purpose in a time frame manner.

The department also informed the committee that the allocation made in budget estimate 2017–18 would be adequate to meet the programmatic requirements planned for 2017–18.

It further stated that approvals were being sought for new series of satellites, namely GSAT-20, GSAT-22/23/24, for which enhanced budgetary requirements would be projected at the RE stage.

Work on other ongoing missions such as GSAT 6A and INSAT 3DS would be carried out and would be realised beyond 2017–18. The department was also making progress in other missions like INSAT-3 series, INSAT-4 series and INSAT/GSAT follow-on missions, it said.

Satellites launched so far

a) GSAT-10 communication satellite with 12 Ku-band, 12 C-band and 6 Lower Extended C-band transponders and a GAGAN (GPS and GEO augmented navigation) payload was successfully launched on board Ariane-V from Kourou, French Guiana, on 29 September 2012. GSAT-10 spacecraft has augmented the INSAT/GSAT capacity with 30 transponders.

b) Launch of GSAT-14 communication satellite on board GSLV-D5 with indigenous cryogenic stage on 5 January 2014. GSAT-14 communication satellite has added 14 communication transponders (6 ext-C-band, 6 Ku-band and 2 Ka-band) to INSAT/GSAT capacity.

c) GSAT-16 communication satellite, carrying 48 communication transponders (24 Ku-band, 12 C-band and 12 Ext. C-band), was successfully launched using procured launch services on 7 December 2014. GSAT-16 has augmented the INSAT/GSAT system capacity for DTH, TV broadcasting, tele-communication, rural communications and other societal benefits. Besides, GSAT-7 communication satellite with UHF-band and S-band were launched for special users.

d) GSAT-6 communication satellite with five spot beams in S-band and a national beam in C-band was successfully launched on board GSLV-D6. One of the advanced features of GSAT-6 satellite is its S-Band Unfurlable Antenna of 6 m diameter—the largest satellite antenna realised by ISRO. This antenna is utilised for five spot beams over the Indian mainland. The spot beams exploit the frequency reuse scheme to increase frequency spectrum utilisation efficiency.

e) GSAT-15 communication satellite, carrying 24 communication transponders in Ku-band, as well as a GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload, was successfully launched on 11 November 2015.

f) GSAT-18 communication satellite, carrying 48 communication transponders and Ku-band beacon, was successfully launched on 6 October 2016.

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SpaceX's next launch to mark start of new era

An upcoming launch of a government spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office will mark the first time the U.S. Department of Defense has used SpaceX for a mission.

For at least the last six years, that arena has been the exclusive domain of competitor United Launch Alliance, which also launches regularly from Florida.

The satellite is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than April 30.

The NRO revealed in May that it had awarded SpaceX the upcoming launch.

The mission will reflect a new area of competition for SpaceX and ULA, two of the main launch providers from the Space Coast. That could mean more business for Florida.

“This satellite was going to launch from Florida anyway,” said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida’s chief of strategic alliances. “But it reflects more competition. That will drive down prices and could result in it being cheaper to get into space, meaning more launches. Competition is a good thing.”

SpaceX until now has focused primarily on telecommunications satellites and cargo missions for the International Space Station.

But landing the government deal did not come without a testy exchange and threat of legal action.

Musk had planned to sue the Air Force, which he accused of rewarding United Launch Alliance because some there planned the company as “their future retirement program.”

“Essentially we’re asking them to award a contract to a company where they are probably not going to get a job, against a company where their friends are,” he told Bloomberg Business Week in early 2015.

Shortly thereafter, the Air Force opened bidding to the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company.

Ultimately, it represented a win for the government, space historian Roger Launius said.

“From the government angle, they now have more than one launch provider,” said Launius, formerly of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “That’s important because if you lose one and have to stand down for whatever period of time, especially for national security payloads, you still have options.”

When the National Reconnaissance Office revealed SpaceX as its provider for the satellite launch, industry observers saw the move as a big moment because it essentially opened the door to competitive bidding on national security contracts.

SpaceX landed a deal in March to send a GPS navigation satellite for the Air Force into space for $96.5 million. That launch is expected to take place within the next two years.

In the competitive space, Launius said SpaceX’s advantage comes at the top.

“At this point, I’m not willing to bet against Elon and his people,” he said. “They have proven over and over that they can pull this stuff off.”

SpaceX’s successful relaunch March 30 of a used Falcon 9 rocket marked another first for Musk’s company, carrying a telecommunications satellite toward orbit before landing the booster on a barge at sea. That accomplishment is early proof that the company’s plan to reuse boosters could eventually lower launch costs.

Few details are available about the upcoming NRO launch, scheduled for as early as April 30 according to a launch-tracking website. The NRO generally keeps those details under wraps.

SpaceX has not confirmed the launch date.

ULA and SpaceX have ramped up their manifests this year, with ULA launching a cargo resupply mission to International Space Station on Tuesday. Spokespeople for SpaceX and United Launch Alliance did not respond to emails requesting comment.

“This is their way of (SpaceX) breaking into the game of government and defense launches,” said Justin Karl, program coordinator of Commercial Space Operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He said SpaceX’s capabilities could grow quickly from the NRO contract.

“It’s a very big deal,” he said. “For government orbital launches, there are very few flight provider options. That is a huge segment of a changing market they have potentially captured.”

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First made-in-Alberta satellite to launch out of Florida Tuesday morning

This weather satellite is out of this world.

After seven years, a team of students from the University of Alberta saw their satellite launched into space on Tuesday at 9:11 a.m. It’s the first satellite to be entirely built in Alberta.  

The satellite—a unit the size of a loaf of bread dubbed EX-Alta 1— launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and made a stop at the International Space Station before making a journey into low Earth orbit.

AlbertaSat, a team of more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students, is one of the first Canadian university teams to put a so-called cube satellite into space.

“Imagine a Rubik’s Cube, but this cube is about 10 by 10 by 10 centimetres,” said space physics masters student and former AlbertaSat project manager Charles Nokes. “And what you can do is stack multiple cubes together and make larger satellites and do more experiments.”

The data collected will prove valuable to sectors such as agriculture and forestry because it will help explain how energy from the sun affects things like plants growing on Earth, he said.

Ex-Alta 1 is part of the QB50 project, which saw university teams from 15 countries building cube satellites. York University student Kristen Cote, who was part of the AlbertaSat team while she worked on her undergraduate degree in astrophysics at the UofA, said the experience was invaluable.

“It’s been the most fulfilling experience, coming from a physics background,” Cote said. “It completely opened up my bucket of resources I had.”

During the process, Cote climbed the ranks to become mechanical team co-lead and said the hands-on experience has reaffirmed her commitment to the field.

“It’s been totally inspiring. It’s not something I would have thought you could accomplish as an undergraduate student.”

ISRO announces launch of South Asia Satellite on 5 May; Pakistan's name dropped

ISRO to launch South Asia Satellite in May 2017 The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching its ‘South Asia Satellite’ on 5 May 2017. The launch aims to benefit all the countries in the region, except Pakistan.

The news on the agency’s plan to launch South Asia Satellite was confirmed by ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar during his telephonic interview with PTI. He informed that it’s going up in the first week of May 2017.

But reports suggest (on basis of ISRO sources) that the launch of this communication satellite (GSAT-9) is scheduled for 5 May 2017. It will be launched on board the space agency’s rocket GSLV-09 from Sriharikota spaceport.

About the satellite

• The satellite with a lift-mass of 2195 kilogramme would carry 12 ku-band transponders.

• It has been designed for a mission life of more than 12 years.

• Earlier, the satellite was named as SAARC Satellite but was changed to South Asia Satellite when Pakistan was dropped from the list of nations taking part in the project.

• The satellite will be providing communication and disaster support as well as connectivity among countries of South Asia region.

• It will be providing facilities like DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.

• Each participating nation will have a potential of using a dedicated transponder with a capacity of 36 to 54 Mhz for its internal use. They will be responsible for the content generation and its use.


The launch of such a South Asian Satellite was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 SAARC summit that was held in Kathmandu, Nepal. In his statement, he announced that the satellite will be India’s gift to its neighbours.

ISRO to launch South Asia Satellite on 5 May, Pakistan not on board

Hyderabad: India plans to launch on 5 May the ‘South Asia Satellite’ that will benefit all the countries in the region, except Pakistan which is not a part of the project.

“It’s going up in the first week of May,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told PTI in a telephonic interview.

According to ISRO officials, the launch of this communication satellite (GSAT-9) is scheduled for 5 May on board the space agency’s rocket GSLV-09 from Sriharikota spaceport.

Kiran Kumar said the satellite, with a lift-off mass of 2,195 kg, would carry 12 ku-band transponders. “Pakistan is not included in that. They did not want (to be part of the project),” he said.

People aware of the matter said the satellite is designed for a mission life of more than 12 years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement about this satellite during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in 2014 calling it a “gift to India’s neighbours.” “It (name) was changed to this (South Asia Satellite) because of that only (Pakistan not being part of it),” Kiran Kumar said.

Earlier, it was named as ‘SAARC Satellite.’ “Basically, it (the satellite) is meant for providing communication and disaster support, connectivity among States (countries of South Asia region). It will provide a significant capability to each of these participating States in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things,” he said.

“So, there is a significant amount of inter-linking possible among the States (these countries),” Kiran Kumar said. According to ISRO officials, there is a potential for each participating country to use a dedicated transponder with a capacity of 36 to 54 Mhz for its own internal use. Each country would be responsible for content generation and its use, they said.

First Published: Fri, Apr 14 2017. 07 59 PM IST

Sky & Space Global set for 3 Diamonds nano-satellites launch

ASX-listed nano-satellite telecommunications provider Sky & Space Global is readying to launch its 3 Diamonds nano satellites with the scheduled launch set for late May.

The company (ASX:SAS) has now confirmed the launch by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its launch site at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

Sky and Space Global’s chief executive Meir Moalem says confirmation of the launch schedule is a substantial milestone for the company and precedes the first in-flight commercial demonstration of its technology and business model.

“We are excited to have the launch window for our 3 Diamonds officially announced. We have made substantial progress in the past 12 months and with our nano-satellites constructed and now ready to launch, we would like to thank shareholders for their continued support.

“Launching the 3 Diamonds is a significant commercial milestone for our company. Following the launch and successful demonstration, we expect to be revenue generating within a few months. We will continue our work and preparations for the launch of a full constellation of up to 200 nano-satellites in orbit to achieve full coverage of the equatorial belt by 2020.”

Once launched, the nano-satellites will commence an eight-week operation of In-Orbit Tests (IOT) to validate full functionality and performance of all subsystems including communications payload.

Sky and Space Global has previously announced plans to launch up to 200 nano-satellites from mid-2018 using the LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

The full constellation of satellites — to be deployed and operational by 2020 — will service equatorial countries in South and Central America, Africa and Asia, as well as airline and shipping companies in the coverage area.

Sky & Space claims the nano-satellites are about 80% cheaper than traditional satellites and are set to be used to “disrupt the telco space by enabling the provision of cheaper voice, data and instant messaging services”.