Viasat partnered with Boeing Satellite Systems for the construction of ViaSat-2, which is scheduled to launch from French Guiana on June 1. Viasat had an opportunity to sit down with Ron Dukat, ViaSat-2 program director at Boeing, to ask five questions about the Company’s partnership with Viasat, features of the Viasat-2 satellite and future endeavors.
Viasat: How did the partnership between Viasat and Boeing originate for Boeing to construct the ViaSat-2 satellite?
Ron Dukat: Boeing and Viasat signed the contract to build ViaSat-2 on May 2013 after several months of working the design and technical requirements together. This was the first order of a Boeing satellite by Viasat, although Boeing and Viasat have worked together on other projects since 2006. Viasat and Boeing are also working on the ViaSat-3 class of satellites. ViaSat-3 will carry a Viasat designed and manufactured payload on a Boeing 702 satellite platform.
VS: How does the ViaSat-2 satellite compare to other communications satellites?
RD: ViaSat-2 is one of the largest 702 high power satellites that Boeing has built for a commercial customer. According to Viasat, ViaSat-2 will double the capacity of the Company’s ViaSat-1 satellite and provide seven times more coverage.
VS: What are some unique features, or fast facts, of ViaSat-2 that you can share?
RD: The fully deployed solar array (wingspan) from tip-to-tip is about 158 feet, half the length of a football field and puts out nearly 18kW of power. At launch, ViaSat-2 will weigh 6,400 kg (14,100 lbs.), which is approximately the weight of four compact sedans. There is more than half a mile of waveguide and three fourths of a mile of coax cable inside the ViaSat-2 spacecraft.
VS: What were the collaboration efforts like between Viasat and Boeing?
RD: Viasat and Boeing have a great working relationship. Viasat has a team of people integrated into the program actively participating in technical reviews, readiness activities and overall project management. In fact, Viasat has someone in French Guiana with the Boeing team working together to launch ViaSat-2. ViaSat is also working with Boeing Commercial Airplanes to pursue the inclusion of Viasat Ka-band airborne terminals in future Boeing airplanes to enhance in-flight connectivity.
VS: What is the lifespan of the ViaSat-2 satellite and how is it powered?
RD: Viasat-2 has a lifespan of about 14 years and is powered by a solar array that generates nearly 18kW of power as well as Lithium Ion batteries. The vehicle maintains it orbital location for 14 years using xenon ion propulsion (electric propulsion).
VS: Ron, we appreciate you taking 5 minutes with us. We’re looking forward to our June 1 launch, as I’m sure you are too. Many thanks again for your time.