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Supplier problems behind delays with the first ViaSat-3 launch

SANTA BARBARA, California – Problems with a named component supplier are the reason why the first launch of a ViaSat-3 pass-through satellite will not happen until 2021.

Carlsbad, California-based Viasat, which builds a trio of ViaSat-3 satellites with Boeing for global broadband connection, the US Federal Communications Commission informed that it will need to extend its market access rights for the first ViaSat-3 due to these delays.

The FCC had granted Viasat, whose satellites are licensed in the United Kingdom, licensed to provide cable communications services in the United States from an orbital site at 88.9 degrees west of a satellite launched and operating by June 1

8, 2019.

Viasat had indicated in corporate income calls that the first ViaSat-3 satellite had slipped to 2020 and could be operated until 2021, but had not given any particular reason. In its June 17 filing, Viasat said that a "vendor" problem resulted in delays with the payloads needed for ViaSat-3. The supplier's name was edited.

Viasat asked to have until 31 December 2021 to get ViaSat-3 Americas on duty or to get a waiver from the FCC deployment milestone.

In contrast to most satellite operators, Viasat builds its own payload rather than performing a manufacturer. Viasat said it builds on the benefits of ViaSat-3 on its own manufacturing of satellite plants in Tempe, Arizona, with modular structures from Boeing.

Boeing also provides satellite cassette and integrates the payloads from Viasat.

The development and manufacture of the first ViaSat-3 satellite will be paid more than 80 percent by the end of June, Viasat said. Changes to the contract for the first ViaSat-3 to include improvements also contributed to it being delayed, although Viasat did not specify how much.

Viasat said the first ViaSat-3 satellite will be launched to serve the United States and the rest of America as well as trans-European routes.

Viasat said it expects the ViaSat-3 satellite satellite to be launched by May 29, 2021 and is in operation on December 31, 2021. The other two satellites – ViaSat-3 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and ViaSat -3 APAC (Asia-Pacific) to be launched "later" with the ViaSat-3 APAC launch no later than the second half of 2022. Viasat has previously said that ViaSat-3 EMEA will start about six months after ViaSat-3 Americas.

Each ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to have more than one terabit per second of total capacity. Viasat said that each will have more than four times the capacity of ViaSat-2, which has 260 gigabits per second, and allows individual users to get up to one gigabit per second of internet connection.

Viasat has a launch contract with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas 5, one with SpaceX for a Falcon Heavy and another with Arianespace which on June 17 was upgraded from an Ariane 5 to the next generation Ariane 6 heavy lift variant with four rem-on -boosters. Viasat has not specified which rocket will start which satellite, but has lines up vehicles that each can launch the heavy satellites closer than the average to the geostation path, which enables shorter circulation times.

Viasat told the FCC's variety of launch contracts ensuring the ability to launch ViaSat-3 Americas within months of completion.

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