The global communications corporation Viasat partnered with Boeing to engineer and build three state-of-the-art satellites that together would offer broadband coverage to most of the globe. After delivering the payload for the first of these satellites to Boeing in June 2021 for completion, Viasat anticipates that ViaSat-3 (Americas) will launch in the first half of the 2022 calendar year. Construction has already begun on the payloads for the following two satellites.

ViaSat-3 and Launch Partnerships

Viasat has launch contracts with three different partners for the three satellites – United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, and SpaceX. The ViaSat-3 series satellites are designed to utilize ionized xenon gas for propulsion, which brings valuable benefits but makes maneuvering a slow process. To compensate for this, Viasat searched for launch partners who could provide unique specifications:

SpaceX and ViaSat-3

Although launch partners were not assigned to particular satellite launches at the time contracts were established, the original window of launch arranged with SpaceX covered 2020-2022. Despite pandemic disruptions, the first ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to launch in 2022. When the ViaSat-3 (Americas) completes its rigorous testing at Boeing, an exact launch date should be scheduled.

Falcon Heavy and ViaSat-3

Because of the need for large rocket capability and availability, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy will be utilized for launch of the ViaSat-3 satellite. The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful rocket that is operational in the world. It is partially reusable and capable of lifting payloads of over 140,000 pounds into orbit. Once the first ViaSat-3 satellite is launched and in orbit and initial testing is complete, it can begin providing high-speed broadband coverage to the Americas.

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