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InRange to enhance global launches with Viasat and Safran partnership
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InRange to enhance global launches with Viasat and Safran partnership
by Sophie Jenkins
London, UK (SPX) Dec 31, 2023

Viasat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a prominent player in the global satellite communications arena, has announced a significant development in collaboration with Safran Data Systems. The two companies are joining forces to introduce InRange, a novel solution designed to provide real-time telemetry data for launch missions. This innovative system promises to revolutionize how launch providers and spaceports monitor launch vehicles during flight, offering a fresh approach that reduces dependence on ground networks.

At the heart of InRange is Viasat's global L-band satellite fleet. This fleet, now under Viasat's operation following the recent acquisition of Inmarsat in May, is key to facilitating uninterrupted telemetry data transmission throughout a launch vehicle's trajectory. By leveraging space-based communications, InRange overcomes the limitations of traditional ground-based infrastructure, enabling mission controllers to track launch performance even beyond direct line of sight. This capability is crucial in eliminating 'blackout zones,' which occur when a launch vehicle enters areas lacking Earth-based connectivity.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Safran Data Systems will contribute its expertise in telemetry solutions by providing telemetry antennas, onboard transmitters, and Cortex modems. These components are integral to supporting the InRange system, ensuring its applicability to commercial launch systems globally. Furthermore, the partnership is exploring various commercial models to facilitate easy acquisition and utilization of InRange, marking another stride in the system's commercial journey. This follows a recent contract with the European Space Agency to test InRange on Skyrora's Skylark L sub-orbital launch vehicle in the coming year.

InRange's significance extends beyond launch telemetry. It is part of Viasat's broader portfolio of in-orbit communications services, which includes the IDRS space relay service. These services are essential for a range of applications, from government communications to earth observation and climate monitoring. They enable real-time data transfer between satellites in various orbits, addressing a growing need in the satellite communications sector.

Gary Lay, Vice President of Viasat's Strategic Programmes, emphasized the transformative potential of InRange, stating, "In the last 10 years we've seen the commercial launch industry really take off with many private launch providers coming to market. Accurate telemetry is a critical part of any launch mission, so global connectivity that provides accurate, real-time data could be game changing as we continue to see rapid growth."

He further added, "InRange is designed to give launch operators greater flexibility and reliability for their launch telemetry. This partnership with Safran is aiming to bring the service to market faster and help it become an indispensable tool for mission success."

Echoing this sentiment, Jean-Marie Betermier, Safran Electronics and Defense Space Director, highlighted the alignment of InRange with the evolving needs of launch operators. "Meeting the new needs of launch operators is our main objective at Safran Data Systems. We have been anticipating them over the last few years and are proud of the progress made with this InRange service offered jointly with Viasat. This is a great recognition of our expertise in the field of advanced telemetry, as we can provide data in real time and continuously, whatever the position of the launch vehicle."

The collaboration between Viasat and Safran Data Systems represents a significant leap in telemetry technology for space launches. By harnessing the power of satellite communications, InRange is poised to offer unprecedented flexibility and reliability in launch telemetry, potentially becoming a cornerstone tool in the rapidly evolving commercial launch sector.

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