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SES successfully launches first tranche of satellites for its new satcom constellation

Pictured is SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Boeing's 702X satellites onboard. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

Luxembourg-based SES successfully launched its first two satellites – F1 and F2 – into medium Earth orbit (MEO) for its O3b mPOWER satellite communication (satcom) constellation at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 16 December.

Launched on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the Boeing-built 702X software-defined satellites will deliver satcom services to governments, militaries, and commercial entities.

The constellation will comprise 11 high-throughput low-latency satellites complemented with SES's ground infrastructure and digital software. The satellites will also be managed by the company, and integrated with its existing O3b constellation.

Compared with SES's previous constellation, O3b mPOWER will offer more throughput, scalability, and flexibility by delivering 5,000 electronically steered, fully digital moveable beams per satellite with up to 10 gigabits per second of throughput, CEO of SES, Steve Collar told Janes and other media representatives at Cape Canaveral on 16 December. This is compared with just 10 beams with the previous constellation, he added.

Each of these electronically steered gateway beams can be allocated to specific customer platforms globally, on their request. In turn offering customers a full dedicated service, Will Tong, vice-president, Strategic Government Initiatives at SES Networks told Janes on 16 December.

From control over beam pointing to services such as transmission planning, the constellation will therefore provide a sovereign-controlled capability to government users, Andrew Ruszkowski, vice-president, O3b mPOWER Commercial Development, SES Satellites, previously told Janes. This is a key feature of the constellation, Collar added.

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