US: Small GEO builder and operator Astranis has selected SpaceX to launch its first satellite. Talking to SpaceNews Astranis CEO John Gedmark said that Astranis’ satellite will be a secondary payload, with SpaceX announcing primary payloads at a later date. Astranis arranged the launch itself, not through a rideshare aggregator like Spaceflight,
The company reserved a Falcon 9 launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Astranis is building the 300-kilogram satellite for internet connectivity in Alaska.
Gedmark said in January that Astranis had signed a multiyear contract worth tens of millions of dollarswith Pacific Dataport Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska for capacity on the satellite. In his blog post, Gedmark said Pacific Dataport and its largest shareholder Microcom will be able to begin service with the satellite in March 2021.
Astranis’ first satellite will offer 7.5 gigabits per second of capacity for Pacific Dataport to use. Pacific Dataport has stated a desire for 40 to 50 gigabits per second of capacity in Alaska, but has not decided on how to obtain that larger amount of capacity.
Gedmark he hopes Astranis’ partnership with Pacific Dataport will “eventually expand to provide many more Gbps of dedicated bandwidth.”
SpaceX’s win of the Astranis mission follows the launch provider’s recent loss of a 2021 mission to launch the 1,500-kilogram Ovzon-3 satellite on a Falcon Heavy. Swedish satellite broadband company Ovzon disclosed Aug. 23 that it switched from SpaceX to an Arianespace Ariane 5. Ovzon CEO Magnus René told SpaceNews that it “could get a better deal in cost and time and so on from Ariane at this time.”