Viasat joins UK’s Harwell Space Cluster

Space innovation campus a natural fit for Viasat as it expands its presence in the UK

The Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, England is home to about 6,000 employees and over 240 public and private sector organizations.

Viasat recently opened a new United Kingdom office on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The 700-acre science and technology campus in Oxfordshire, England is home to about 6,000 employees and over 240 public and private sector organizations. They represent the space, clean energy, life sciences, and quantum computing industries in the UK and from across the European Union.

Viasat’s new location on the campus is in the Harwell Space Cluster, a global space hub that includes representation from 105 space organizations, including the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

The Harwell Campus is designed to create links with other international space clusters, helping the UK achieve its National Space Strategy goal: to be 10% of the global space-related economy by 2030.

As part of that goal, Viasat plans to contribute its expertise in space-based broadband communications to the Harwell community. The move also demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to the country and its long-term growth plans for the UK.

“We are looking to build relationships in the UK that can help add value and new capabilities to our global ViaSat-3 constellation of satellites, which are designed to extend broadband internet service to the hardest-to-reach places in the world,” said Rick Baldridge, Viasat’s president and CEO. “We look forward to creating alliances with UK organizations in areas such as space safety and sustainability, encryption and data security, terminal development and more.”

Space Cluster representatives said Viasat is a valuable addition to the campus.

“We are delighted to have Viasat join the Harwell Campus,” said Dr. Joanna Hart, development manager for the Harwell Space Cluster. “It is an innovative communications company known for working with growing start-ups in the satellite and space community. Viasat will be able to access the world-leading space research and technology we offer, spotting valuable commercial opportunities and next-generation innovations.”

Founded in 1946, the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus’ original mission was to tackle the energy crisis and advance nuclear technology. Today, it’s home to a federation of leading science and technology organizations and facilities, collaborating between government, academia, and industry. Together, these organizations work to accelerate progress on the key issues of our time – from pandemic preparedness to clean energy.

Harwell’s campus is about half an hour from Viasat’s UK office in Aldershot. About 70 people work at Viasat UK.

Half of the team develops software and hardware for Viasat’s government encryption devices, supporting several NATO nations and enterprises.

The other half work on space and tactical communications projects to support the Ministry of Defence’s digital and multi-domain integration vision – the interconnection of all branches of the military, government and cyberspace – as well as Europe’s growing space industry. They’re also preparing for expanded internet service from the company’s upcoming ViaSat-3 global constellation.

The first of three ViaSat-3 satellites is expected soon. The constellation is expected to deliver over 3 Terabits per second (Tbps) of total network capacity, or roughly eight times the capacity of Viasat’s current fleet.

The second ViaSat-3 satellite will provide coverage over EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) — including the UK.

Viasat also announced in November 2021 its plans to purchase London-based Inmarsat, a global, mobile satellite communications provider.

“This move brings together two talented teams that have built advanced and highly complementary assets — and creates a new leading global communications innovator with enhanced scale and scope to affordably, securely, and reliably connect the world,” Baldridge said.