Multi-Orbit Space Relay Communications

Viasat, Inc.
Washington, D.C.
Multi-Orbit Space Relay Communications

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate (RV) selected Viasat to provide on-orbit space relay connectivity for its ARBALEST program, which aims to support a future space-based demonstration of operational capabilities for the Department of Defense (DoD). The future AFRL mission will illustrate the advantages of enabling real-time, global connectivity between DoD low-Earth orbit (LEO) spacecraft and commercial geostationary (GEO) satellites.

The ARBALEST program and expected AFRL-led mission will demonstrate the military utility of LEO space relay over commercial high throughput satellites in support of space mission resilience, real-time data dissemination, command and control (C2), as well as the rapid re-tasking of government space vehicles. Viasat’s space relay solution enables these capabilities and will leverage the upcoming ViaSat-3 constellation, which includes three Ka-band terabit-class GEO satellites, to provide continuous coverage for LEO spacecraft.

Under the ARBALEST program, Viasat will provide AFRL with a Ka-band space relay payload for integration into a spacecraft for the future AFRL mission, as well as provide engineering analysis, integration and test support. Viasat will also support the on-orbit demonstration phase of the mission.

The space relay service will be a new offering to help commercial and government LEO operators share time-sensitive data more effectively and remain in constant contact with their spacecraft, allowing them to send commands and receive data at any time — all through the high-capacity, resilient ViaSat-3 constellation. This future AFRL mission will be the first pathfinder demonstration of Viasat’s space relay service. The Viasat space relay service is expected to achieve initial operational capability in late 2025.

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