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Viasat Selects to Deliver Real-Time, Near-Earth Communications for NASA's Communications Services Project

04/25/2022 | 08:00am
Viasat Inc. announced it was selected on April 20(th) by NASA to support its Communications Services Project (CSP), which seeks to accelerate the development of near-Earth communications by partnering with commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) providers. Aligned to the CSP objectives, Viasat is developing a space relay capability that will leverage its upcoming ViaSat-3 global satellite constellation, with a newly developed terminal that will enable on-demand and cost-effective communications services for LEO spacecraft anywhere and at any time in their global orbit. Many satellites operating in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) routinely collect data, such as Earth and weather observations, radar measurements, space situational awareness, and other scientific data, that must be sent back to Earth in real- time. In choosing how to transport this data back to Earth for analysis and distribution, satellite operators often must consider a tradeoff between data latency, the time between data collection to when it is received back on Earth, and cost. Viasat's existing RTE service has already reduced the cost to satellite operators by not requiring them to build and operate a costly, global network of ground station antennas to receive data from the LEO satellite; however, operators must wait until their satellites fly over a ground station to downlink their data. This introduces latency that can last from minutes to hours. Viasat's space relay service will give LEO operators the ability to send data--in real-time, from any point in LEO orbit--leveraging the upcoming ViaSat-3 geostationary orbit (GEO) network, which will include three Terabit-class high-throughput satellites. Viasat's integrated space relay network will offer the best of both worlds by providing adaptable transport selection between the RTE ground network and ViaSat-3. This is expected to greatly reduce data latency by providing an affordable option for time-critical, latency-sensitive data transfer, while simultaneously offering multiple daily opportunities to downlink large amounts of data over a global ground network at very low cost. The Viasat RTE network currently operates on five continents, with sites in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa.
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