CARLSBAD — In two months, $600 million will be on the line for ViaSat.
The Carlsbad-based broadband internet company announced last week its blastoff for their ViaSat-2 satellite is April 25.
The payload will get its ride into space on the Ariane 5 rocket courtesy of France-based Arianespace from a launch pad in French Guyana in South America.
Keven Lippert, executive vice president of Satellite Systems and Corporate Development at ViaSat, said excitement is swirling around the Carlsbad campus in anticipation of the company’s second-ever launch.
“ViaSat-2 for us, is really about improving our service for our customers, but it is also about increasing the reach — basically the coverage of our service,” Lippert explained.
A successful launch, meanwhile, is not lost on the ViaSat brass.
It would be a game-changing moment as the company aims to transition from a last-resort option to competing with wireless and DSL internet services, Lippert said.
He said launch day is an exciting time and a successful ride into space will be the culmination of five years of work on the ViaSat-2 project.
“It’s pretty rewarding,” Lippert said. “I have a lot of confidence in them (Arianespace) and I feel really good about the fact we are using them for our launch.”
ViaSat held an informal press event in January for an exclusive look at the ViaSat-2, satellite, which is being housed at the Boeing facility in El Segundo. Photographs were not permitted so as to protect the company’s technological secrets.
Nevertheless, ViaSat’s newest tool in their mission to provide more coverage and capacity stands 25-feet high, about 10 feet wide and once its solar panels deploy in space, will have a wingspan of 150 feet.
ViaSat-2 will have two times more the capacity than ViaSat-1, which was the highest capacity satellite ever when it launched in 2011. ViaSat-2 will increase capacity speeds up to 300 billions per second (Gbps), provide seven times more coverage and customer download speeds up to 25 to 50Mbps.
“We are aimed at primarily the U.S. market,” Lippert said. “We’ve moved up from service as a last resort. What we are aiming to be is a global broadband company. ViaSat-2 is the intermediate point. We are not done yet. For us, this is a really important stepping stone for moving from the domestic from the early service to the improved service and being regional.
“The next step is going to be global and even better services. It helps us grow toward that in a step function.”
The satellite will journey 22,000 miles to its orbital slot above the East Coast and once it is operational, which is expected to be in the fourth quarter of 2017, it will expand the Carlsbad-based company’s reach across the Atlantic Ocean to the Middle East and the northern tip of South America.
Lippert said crossing the pond is known as the Atlantic Bridge and along with a joint venture with long-time partner Eutelsat of France, which will provide extensive coverage in Europe along with airline service through most of the continent.
He also explained it will take several months for the satellite to reach its slot above Earth, during which the company will also conduct numerous final tests of its ground-based systems.
Still, a ride into space is not guaranteed.
Lippert said confidence in Arianespace is high, although the possibility of a failed launch is in the back of his mind.
And while blasting off is a test in its own right, he said the quality of the rocket and reputation and successful launches of Arianespace eases the nerves.
Although this will be ViaSat’s second satellite launch, the company inherited two other satellites when it bought Wild Blue.