SES readies for launch of 8 initial O3b mPower satellite ground stations

SES has signed agreements with key infrastructure service providers around the world to build eight initial O3b mPower satellite ground stations.

Construction has already started on these advanced technology satellite ground stations, which will become operational in the second half of this year. The eight sites will provide telemetry, tracking and control capabilities to enable SES’s management of the constellation. They will also be leveraged to raise the satellites into the right orbit after the scheduled launches.

As previously announced, two of the satellite ground stations are located at Dubbo, NSW, Australia (operated by Pivotel) and Thermopylae, Greece (operated by OTE). Other locations include Merredin, Perth, Australia; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Chile; the United Arab Emirates; Senegal as well as SES’s own satellite ground station in Hawaii. Four out of the eight sites will be co-located and operated with Microsoft’s Azure data centres; the one-hop connectivity to the cloud from remote sites will provide O3b mPower customers with the ability to optimise business operations with significant flexibility and agility.

O3b mPower is SES’s next-generation Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) system. Building on the success of O3b, each of the 11 high-throughput, low-latency O3b mPower satellites will deliver high-speed connectivity services from tens of megabits to multiple gigabits per second, providing fibre-like connectivity to customers globally.

The O3b mPower satellite ground stations feature a new generation of fast-install 5.5-metre carbon fibre antennas which can be installed without the need for expensive and time-consuming photogrammetry. In addition, they will utilise energy-efficient solid-state power amplifiers, and a low electrical load for the antenna control unit (ACU).

The satellite ground stations will use SES’s gateway management system for automated operations and handovers, which will be tightly integrated with SES’s unique resource management capability, Adaptive Resource Control (ARC) and other SES software sub-systems. With this configuration, SES will dynamically manage and optimise space and ground resources to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Stewart Sanders, executive vice president of technology and O3b mPower programme manager at SES, commented: “We are thrilled to have chosen these eight locations and that construction is underway. We are also deep in discussions with several telco players and operators who are keen to have their own O3b mPower satellite ground station. This is particularly exciting, as it means that SES’s provision of a core network of command, control and data gateways will be augmented with a number of customer satellite ground stations. We expect a number of these customer satellite ground stations to include virtualised installations of the cloud at the edge of the deployed networks, thus improving the end-user experience.”

The first three O3b mPower satellites are scheduled for launch in the third quarter of this year, with the next three in the first quarter of 2022. After orbit raising, O3b mPower will start delivering services in the third quarter of 2022.

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