Viasat Inc., (Nasdaq: VSAT) has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) proven Atlas V vehicle to launch one of their ViaSat-3 satellite missions — this is the first commercial contract ULA has directly signed since assuming responsibility for the marketing and sales of the Atlas V launch vehicle from Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services earlier this year.
The Viasat mission will carry one of the ViaSat-3 series spacecraft and is scheduled to launch in the 2020 to 2022 timeframe from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission will launch aboard an Atlas V 551 configuration vehicle, the largest in the Atlas V fleet. The 551 configuration provides the performance to deliver a ViaSat-3 satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit where it can begin on-orbit operations faster than with other available launch vehicles.
The selection of Atlas V for one of the ViaSat-3 missions is the next step in implementing Viasat’s integrated launch strategy which is designed to ensure the on-time launch of all of the ViaSat-3 spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity and an integrated approach to launch planning. Viasat will announce specific mission assignments for each of the contracted launch vehicles at a later date.
The ViaSat-3 class of Ka-band satellites is expected to provide unprecedented capabilities in terms of service speed and flexibility for a satellite platform. The first two satellites will focus on the Americas and on Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), respectively, with the third satellite planned for the APAC region, completing Viasat's global service coverage. Each ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to deliver more than 1-Terabit per second of network capacity, and to leverage high levels of flexibility to dynamically direct capacity to where customers are located.
Atlas V has launched 78 missions with 100 percent success including 17 successful commercial missions. The workhorse rocket also delivered critical science missions for NASA such as Mars Science Lab, Pluto New Horizons and Mars InSight, and critical missions for the Department of Defense including Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) and Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS).
Dave Ryan, the President of Space Systems at Viasat, said that ULA continues to demonstrate schedule certainty and flexibility, as well as be a trustworthy and reliable business partner. This coupled with unmatched Atlas V launch vehicle reliability and tailored mission design capabilities made ULA a strong partner for a ViaSat-3 launch mission. ULA is known for providing an innovative launch solution that is focused on mission success, which will allow ViaSat to meet the company's business objectives to bring high-speed, high-quality broadband connectivity to meet end-user demand.
Tory Bruno, ULA’s President and CEO, added that ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle is the most reliable launch vehicle in the world and the company is pleased that Viasathas recognized the value the Atlas V can offer and has decided to select this rocket to launch their commercial communications satellite.