Viasat to Provide USAF With Space Relay Communications

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has selected communications provider Viasat to deliver a space-based relay connectivity solution for the ARBALEST program.

ARBALEST seeks to develop interoperability between US Department of Defense communication assets in space and commercial geostationary satellites to support US military operations.

Under the program, Viasat will team with AFRL to demonstrate the advantages of global, real-time connectivity between low-Earth orbit (LEO) spacecraft and the firm’s ViaSat-3 satellite constellation.

The approach is expected to bolster real-time data dissemination, mission flexibility, command and control, and rapid management of government space vehicles.

Alongside the satellites, Viasat will provide integration services, engineering analysis, and test support throughout the effort’s in-orbit demonstration phase.

The mission with AFRL is the company’s first pathfinder demonstration of space relay service. Initial operational capability of the solution is slated for late 2025.

‘Efficient Method’

According to Viasat, the company’s space relay services aid both government and commercial LEO operators in exchanging time-sensitive data more effectively and maintaining contact with their spacecraft.

“Viasat is very excited to expand its partnership with AFRL and to accelerate the delivery of advanced commercial space-based communications for the DoD,” Viasat Government Systems President Craig Miller said.

“This real-time space relay capability will offer an efficient method of moving LEO satellite data to the ground for operations.”

“This technology will help increase resilience for future US space missions and benefit warfighters with more direct, immediate access to information and data to improve the situational awareness and decisions supporting the safety of those on the front lines.”

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