ViaSat Launches Satellite in One Giant Leap for High-Capacity Internet

10/19/11Follow @bvbigelow

[Updated 10/20/11 12:45 pm, with ViaSat announcing successful launch.] Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) says today that yesterday’s launch of its ViaSat-1 satellite was successful, and the spacecraft is now moving into position for its final geosynchronous orbit. The satellite, designed to be the highest data capacity satellite ever built, blasted off from from the Baikonour Cosmodrome, the Russian space launch facility in Kazakhstan.

The company hosted a live webcast of the launch, which took place as planned—shortly before noon in California. A replay is available here.

After reaching space successfully, ViaSat spokesman Bruce Rowe said it would take the 6.7-ton satellite spent another 12 hours to complete a planned sequence of orbital maneuvers. The satellite deployed both sets of solar arrays.

As we’ve reported previously, the $450 million satellite represents one giant step for the company, which has operated mostly as a military contractor that provides secure, satellite-based communications. ViaSat capped its satellite development in 2009 with its $568-million acquisition of Colorado-based WildBlue, which provides high-speed Internet service in sparsely populated areas.

ViaSat says its satellite is designed to operate at 140 Gbps (gigabits per second) total throughput —enough for 1.5 million subscribers. That’s not the data rate home satellite Internet users will see, but it’s more total bandwidth capacity than all current Ku-, Ka-, and C-band satellites over North America combined.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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