First ViaSat-3 enters environmental testing

TAMPA, Fla. — Viasat said Sept. 29 its inaugural ViaSat-3 satellite has started environmental tests after being put into flight configuration for the first time.

These tests will simulate the vibration and acoustic environments the broadband satellite is set to endure as it is launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket later this year.

The satellite is one of three in a constellation that Viasat is building with Boeing to provide global high-throughput Ka-band services.

Boeing is providing its 702 satellite bus platform to house the payloads that Viasat developed internally.

The first ViaSat-3 will focus on covering the Americas from geostationary orbit. 

The second, launching about six months later, will cover Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Its payload is still undergoing integration with its 702 chassis after arriving at Boeing’s facility in El Segundo, California, in July.

Viasat said the third satellite in the constellation, targeting the Asia Pacific region and slated to launch six months after the second, is currently in final payload tests at its Tempe, Arizona, facility.

According to the operator, each Viasat-3 will have more than one terabit a second of broadband capacity, or 1,000 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is three times faster than the Americas-focused ViaSat-2 that launched in 2017.

Viasat says the combined capacity of satellites in its current fleet is in the vicinity of 500 Gbps.

ViaSat-3 will have some of the largest reflectors ever sent to space to increase signal strength. Each satellite will have a total eight solar panels per wing, giving ViaSat-3 an overall 44-meter wingspan, nearly the same as a Boeing 767 airplane.

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