WASHINGTON – Small GEO builder and operator Astranis has selected SpaceX to launch its first satellite.
Astranis CEO John Gedmark said in an Aug. 26 blog post that the company booked a Falcon 9 launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Gedmark told SpaceNews by email 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, he said.
Astranis is building the 300-pound satellite for internet connectivity in Alaska.
Gedmark said in January that Astranis had a multiyear contract worth tens of millions of dollars with Pacific Dataport Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska for capacity on the satellite. In its 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 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 said 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 he switched from SpaceX to Arianespace Ariane 5. Ovzon CEO Magnus René told SpaceNews that he "could get a better deal in cost and time and so on from Ariane at this time."