A Falcon Heavy rocket launches the Viasat-3 “Americas” satellite on May 1, 2023.
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Viasat took a big step toward satellite viability last weekend, While the long-awaited launch of the first Triple VIASAT-3 rocket has lifted off the ground (thanks to the “full force” release of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket).
achievement It brings a new punch to the Viasat network, helping it increase its share of the satellite communications market and strengthen its existing position against low-Earth orbit competitors such as Starlink, OneWeb and Amazon’s Kuiper.
The first of three planned satellites, the Americas satellite, is currently on its way to far geosynchronous orbit, with EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and Asia Pacific (Asia Pacific) satellites expected to launch in the coming months. Each satellite is the most powerful communications spacecraft ever launched, with a capacity of more than 1 terabyte per second, more than three times that of its predecessor, ViaSat-2.
Earlier this year, I sat down with Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg in D.C., and as our scheduled 30-minute conversation stretched into an hour, we discussed what ViaSat-3 means for the company, particularly in its strategy versus other LEO players.
“With Viasat-3, we’re going to have a lot more bandwidth than we’ve had before…we’re going to have probably three to four times the bandwidth that we had before that in the US,” Dankberg said at the time.
Dankberg said the new satellites also give Viasat “a great deal of flexibility” in where it targets bandwidth. He’s especially eager to increase the company’s reach in the in-flight WiFi market, with several major commercial airlines — Delta, United, American and Southwest — already on Viasat’s customer list.
Dankberg sees Viasat-3 as “more successful in business aviation”, particularly by adding coverage over the Pacific Ocean. And there is an opportunity in other transport sectors, such as trains or shipping.
“We’ll have enough bandwidth to serve markets that we already know about, and we want to create some of those other markets,” Dankberg said.
As for Viasat’s rivals, Dankberg thinks Amazon is “more methodical” than SpaceX in its approach — “Amazon doesn’t have to focus on raising money” — and said he’s “a little surprised” that Kuiper is going after the consumer internet market, like Starlink, but he expects Amazon to be “Highly effective” given broader internal technology synergies.
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