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2nd ViaSat Suffers Anomaly In Orbit

Viasat Inc. has confirmed an unexpected anomaly with its Inmarsat-6 F2 (I6 F2) satellite; the second ViaSat satellite in 6 weeks to suffer from an anomaly.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Fri Aug 25 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Global communications company, Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), has confirmed an unexpected anomaly with its Inmarsat-6 F2 (I6 F2) satellite; the second ViaSat satellite in 6 weeks to suffer from an anomaly.

ViaSat has confirmed that Inmarsat-6 F2 experienced a power subsystem anomaly during a recent orbit raising phase, prompting Viasat and satellite manufacturer Airbus to collaborate on identifying the cause and evaluating the satellite's mission viability. The annoucment comes just six weeks after Viasat's acknowledged a issue related to the deployment of the primary antenna on the ViaSat-3 Americas satellite, which was launched on April 30. 

The incident marks a rare occurrence in the space industry, with Airbus noting that none of its previously launched geostationary telecommunication satellites have suffered failures in orbit.

In February, a I6 F2 launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into a geostationary transfer orbit. Current data from the U.S. Space Force's reveals that I-6 F2 presently orbits within a range of 23,061 to 48,126 kilometers, inclined at 3.28 degrees – a distance that falls notably short of the desired geostationary orbit, with no significant recorded since mid-August.

Viasat assures its customers that ongoing services will remain unaffected, and the company does not foresee a significant impact on its financial projections for revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth as communicated in their recent shareholder letter. Shares of Viasat were down about 5% in trading Aug. 25 on the Nasdaq. The company is near its 52-week low, down nearly 50% from a high in early June.

The I6 F2 satellite's manufacturing and launch costs had been insured, providing a cushion against such eventualities. This incident does not affect the operational status of the twin satellite, Inmarsat-6 F1, which was launched back in December 2021 and continues to perform according to expectations.

"I6 F2's initial mission was essentially to provide spare L-band and four Gbps of additional Ka-band capacity, consistent with deploying and operating a resilient, redundant network." - Mark Dankberg, Viasat's Chairman and CEO

The I6 satellite series was designed to complement Viasat's existing geostationary L-band satellite fleet, enhancing capacity and coverage redundancy. The I6 F2 anomaly does not halt the company's progress; as Viasat already has three L-band satellites under construction, known as the Inmarsat-8 satellites. These satellites are intended to fortify the company's global safety services.

Viasat's commitment to advancing global mobility services remains firm, with seven more Ka-band satellites under construction. These forthcoming additions will bolster Viasat's position in the industry.