ViaSat-3 is a constellation of three ultra-high-capacity Ka-band geostationary satellites currently in production. The first and second payloads have already been sent to Boeing Satellite Systems for integration with the 702MP+ bus (spacecraft). This is a modified version of Boeing’s 702 bus with a good deal more power (greater than 25kW per satellite), and they are expected to make the ViaSat-3 satellites some of the most high-powered ones ever built. To produce that power, the four solar panels of the traditional 702MP have been bumped to eight. These solar cells are similar to the ones used in the original Apollo moon missions and have powered more than 1,000 satellites around the globe.
- Capacity, as noted above. Today, our combined fleet has about 500 Gbps of capacity, so this constellation is expected to increase that by up to 600%. This enormous boost in capacity is expected to enable Viasat to provide faster speeds and the ability to manage a great deal more data — of particular importance as the data needs of the world have increased tremendously since the advent of video streaming and other data-intensive applications.
- Power: These satellites will each have greater than 25kW of power, making them among the highest-powered satellites ever built. The power system on the satellite was updated from Boeing’s heritage 702MP bus to include eight rather than four solar panels, as well as upgraded batteries and power distribution system. That boost is necessary to power the sophisticated electronics at the core of the satellite’s tremendous capacity.
- Size: Once deployed in space, the ViaSat-3 satellites will be significantly larger than most other geostationary satellites, with an overall wingspan of 144 feet — about half a football field — and weighing approximately 6 metric tons.
- Weight: The ViaSat-3 satellites will be the lightest satellites that Viasat has ever launched, despite their added capacity.
- ViaSat-1: 6,740kg
- ViaSat-2: 6,417kg
- ViaSat-3: 6000kg
- ViaSat-1: 6,740kg
The mass reduction was enabled through the high degree of integration of the satellite payload and use of electric propulsion technology.
- Flexibility: With most satellites, the area they will cover is predetermined prior to launch, with little or no ability to shift capacity from one area to another. Each ViaSat-3 satellite is highly flexible, meaning it capacity can be reallocated to different areas based on need.
- Similar boom to the James Webb Space Telescope
The long boom arm for the large reflector on each ViaSat-3 satellite is a direct derivative of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) sunshade mid-booms. These booms were a mission-critical item for JWST, and VS-3 uses a larger version of these telescoping booms.
Viasat’s satellite coverage is not constrained in that manner because our service comes directly to the end user via a small antenna. Right now, Viasat Internet for residential customers is available to 99% of the population of the United States. And, because delivering internet via satellite requires minimal infrastructure, the ViaSat-3 constellation can address those gaps with a much better speed-to-market scenario. Where it might take years to build out terrestrial infrastructure, satellite can be available in a new market within months just about anywhere — including in high-population areas not served by terrestrial providers.