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ViaSat pushes back launch to repair damaged satellite

Posted: January 14, 2011

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The launch of ViaSat's first high-capacity broadband communications satellite will be delayed several months after receiving damage while being moved inside a factory in California, the company announced Thursday.

Artist's concept of the ViaSat 1 satellite. Credit: Space Systems/Loral
The powerful spacecraft was supposed to launch on an International Launch Services Proton rocket this spring. The launch is now scheduled for this summer, according to a ViaSat press release.

"The delay provides additional time for repair and testing after the satellite was damaged while being moved during the testing process," the ViaSat statement said. "All costs related to the repair and retesting of the satellite are being assumed by the manufacturer of ViaSat 1."

The spacecraft's contractor is Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif.

ViaSat says the satellite will be the highest-capacity satellite in the world at the time of launch. It will serve the U.S. market with 130 gigabits per second of bandwidth, nearly twice the capacity of Europe's revolutionary KA-SAT satellite launched in December.

The company's WildBlue Communications subsidiary currently serves more than 400,000 subscribers. WildBlue targets rural customers living and working out of reach of traditional Internet networks. ViaSat acquired WildBlue in 2009, assuming ownership of WildBlue's dedicated Ka-band satellite and leasing agreements with other operators.

The new satellite will deliver high-speed Internet to more than one million subscribers, allowing the company to boost its subscriber numbers. It will be positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 115 degrees west longitude.

A key advantage of Ka-band satellite communications is open bandwidth. Other parts of the communications spectrum, including Ku-band and C-band, are widely used by television broadcasters.