Viasat, NRTC’s satellite broadband partner, announced today that SpaceX, a space launch business featuring the Falcon Heavy rocket, will launch one of the three planned Viasat-3 satellites sometime between the years 2020 and 2022. The launch will originate at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The company said it chose the FalconHeavy system because of its ability to insert a satellite payload very close to its final geostationary orbital slot, saving significant time before putting the satellite into operation. In-orbit testing of the satellite can begin rapidly after launch. By comparison, the Viasat-2, which launched on June 1, 2017, on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, did not complete positioning and testing phases and go into operation until nearly nine months later.
The Viasat-3 series is to be a group of three satellites in three different geostationary orbits with footprints combined to cover the entire globe. Each satellite is to have a 1 terabyte-per-second of capacity. Viasat intends to announce different launch vehicles for the other two satellites in the series at a future date.
Update, Oct. 30: Correction. According to a Space News article, ViaSat already has chosen two other launch partners for ViaSat-3 satellites -- Arianespace and United Launch Alliance.