SES heralded the first launch for O3b mPOWER, its second-generation medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation poised to enable tens of thousands of multi-gigabit class spotbeams across the planet.
SpaceX succesfully orbited the first two satellites, which a software-defined capability to deliver more than 5,000 steerable beams that can be repositioned based on real-time data from SES customers’ terminals. The satellites were launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The satellites are based on Boeing’s 702 platform use Spectrolab’s custom-designed solar arrays built to withstand harsh MEO radiation.
SES contracted with Boeing to deliver 11 O3b mPOWER satellites to SES, Boeing continues production, integration and testing of the remaining nine spacecraft. The O3b mPOWER satellites are also flexible in their launch configuration, with the ability to launch two or three satellites at a time.
SES said its new MEO satellites will be able to deliver roundtrip latency of less than 150 milliseconds. The company is also partnering with Microsoft to bring one-hop connectivity from the satellites into Microsoft Azure data centers. The terabit-scale capacity of the new O3b mPOWER constellation, the automated and software-defined steerable beams of the satellites, upgraded customer terminals and telco/cloud partnerships are expected many new use cases and deployment sites.
“Much more than just another launch, today marks the next milestone of our MEO journey. Since starting this journey, we have gone on to positively impact millions around the world. Today, with our second-generation O3b mPOWER, we are bringing game-changing technology that delivers a unique combination of multiple gigabits per second of throughput at any location, guaranteed reliability and service flexibility that is a first in the industry,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “Whether we are enabling governments to carry out critical missions securely, cruise operators to provide high-speed broadband access to passengers at all times, or mobile network operators to deploy 4G/5G networks in underconnected areas or restore communications networks in down time, O3b mPOWER is the satellite system of choice for applications where performance matters most.”
O3b mPOWER commercial service is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2023.
“SES approached us with a vision to create global equity, by providing people with high-speed connectivity where it wasn’t economically or physically feasible to build fiber infrastructure,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice presiqdent of Space and Launch at Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We partnered to create a super computer constellation in space to meet that goal, and we can’t wait to see what SES does as the 702X platform’s first user.”
The first stage Falcon 9 booster previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G and one Starlink mission. It was recovered on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic.