Main Engine Cut Off

Astranis Signs First Customer

Caleb Henry, SpaceNews:

Pacific Dataport Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, will lease capacity on the satellite through a long-term contract worth “tens of millions of dollars,” Astranis CEO John Gedmark said in an interview. Astranis will own and operate the satellite.

The satellite, so far unnamed, will cover the entire state of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, with Ka-band connectivity for broadband, according to officials from Astranis and Pacific Dataport.

Gedmark said the satellite’s design calls for a mass of 300 kilograms — substantially smaller than typical geostationary satellites weighing several thousand kilograms, but still enough to provide meaningful capacity. Astranis will build the satellite in preparation for a launch in the second half of 2020, he said.

It will technically cover the entire state, sure, but the high latitudes and rugged terrain of Alaska will present challenges in some areas.

Once Pacific Dataport is up and running with service in Alaska, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them expand with a handful of satellites in Molniya orbits. While non-stationary orbits bring other challenges—specifically in the area of antennas—three satellites can provide 24 hours of coverage for high latitudes, and terrain becomes much less of an issue.