SES expanded its constellation of MEO (medium Earth orbit) satellites via the launch of 4 more on Soyuz rocket. The satellites join twelve existing MEO satellites in O3b constellation in order to provide additional broadband capacity to the offshore sectors and passenger shipping.
The satellites are due to provide coverage between the tropics in Ka-band, similar to existing satellites, from an orbit which is 8,000 km closer than the geostationary satellites of SES. They were constructed by Thales Alenia Space and then launched by Arianespace from Guiana Space Center (Kourou, French Guiana) on March 9.
According to Steve Collar, SES chief executive designate, the 4 extra satellites would be commissioned ready to start operation in May 2018. He added SES invested in new satellites as demand for high-performance bandwidth and networks continued to grow.
Carnival Corporation uses O3b satellites in order to provide broadband to guests on cruise ships like Regal Princess. Royal Caribbean also utilises SES Networks MEO maritime service for RCCL Voom service.
Martin Halliwell, SES chief technology officer, said that another batch of 4 O3b satellties were due to be launched on Soyuz rocket next year. The first twelve O3b satellites were launched by 3 Soyuz launch vehicles in 2013 and 2014.
Currently, SES is investing in geostationary constellation and is ready to launch SES-12, described as the most powerful commercial communications satellite, in Q2 2018.