Thales O3b satellites arrive at launch base

Thales O3b satellites arrive at launch base

Stephen Kuper

The four latest O3b satellites have been shipped from the Thales Alenia Space Facility in Rome to the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana on behalf of SES Networks.

Built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for SES, these communications satellites will be launched by a Soyuz rocket in March 2019, joining the current constellation of 16 satellites. The O3b system has been operational in orbit since 2014.

With the four latest satellites up and running in medium-Earth orbit (MEO), the O3b constellation will offer greater capacity, better coverage and more efficient operation, along with higher reliability.

SES Networks, SES’ provider of global managed data services, will call on these high-performance satellites to offer communications services to telecommunications, maritime, aeronautical and energy markets, as well as governments and institutions across the world.

SES Networks already operates the world's only MEO satellites, delivering the lowest-latency service from space. The company plans to add to the fleet of existing satellites, with a new constellation of seven next-gen O3b MEO satellites by 2021, with the objective to set new industry benchmarks across multiple performance metrics, including: 

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  • Capacity: The O3b mPOWER system will be capable of delivering multiple terabits of throughput globally.
  • Flexibility: System intelligence and beam-forming capabilities provide total flexibility to shape, moderate, route, shift and switch more than 5,000 beams per satellite in real time to tailor and deliver bandwidth virtually anywhere.
  • Coverage: With more than 35,000 formed beams available system-wide, the constellation provides unrivaled coverage of +/- 50 degrees latitude for nearly 400 million square kilometres with full global MEO coverage possible via inclined planes. Software that integrates O3b mPOWER with the SES fleet enables truly global resiliency, and the ability to dynamically route application-optimised traffic over GEO, MEO, or terrestrial networks.

As prime contractor for a total of 125 satellites in three constellations, Globalstar 2 (24), O3b (20) and Iridium NEXT (81), Thales Alenia Space is a benchmark partner in the development and deployment of low and medium orbit telecom satellite constellations.

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