With SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy having just completed the first of three launches for Viasat’s new geosynchronous constellation of communication satellites, the satellite company has announced that it is cancelling its launch contract with Ariane-6 for the third launch.
The decision means the launch contract is up for grabs for the third ViaSat 3 internet satellite, the last of a three-satellite constellation Viasat is deploying to provide global broadband connectivity from space.
Viasat announced in 2018 it selected SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Arianespace to each launch one ViaSat 3 satellite, awarding launch contracts to three industry leaders.
The ULA launch, on its Atlas-5 rocket, is still scheduled for either late this year or early next.
The development of Ariane-6 however is years behind schedule. Furthermore, Arianespace has given priority on Ariane-6 to all of the ESA launches that formerly were going to be launched on Russian Soyuz rockets, further delaying Viasat’s launch.
For Viasat, the delays have become unacceptable, and it has now opened that third launch to bidding. Though both ULA’s Vulcan and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rockets could do the job, neither is operational either. It appears SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is the only rocket available and is therefore almost certain to get the contract, a conclusion further confirmed by the timing of this announcement, just prior to that successful Falcon Heavy launch.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
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