Boeing's 702x small GEO bus is based on the O3b mPower satellite, currently produced by the company for SES's medium Earth orbit constellation of high throughput satellites. The company has combined its legacy 702 small and medium platforms with a newly designed digital payload
Fremont, CA: Aerospace industry giants Boeing is expecting to sign up international buyers for its new communications satellite bus aimed at small geosynchronous market. The company will be pitching the Boeing 702x spacecraft to several potential customers, at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Earlier in September, Euroconsult’s annual World Satellite Business Week conference, Boeing announced that it was bringing out the whole family of 702 spacecraft for what is expected to be a growing market for small geostationary orbit satellites.
Boeing's 702x small GEO bus is based on the O3b mPower satellite, currently produced by the company for SES's medium Earth orbit constellation of high throughput satellites. The company has combined its legacy 702 small and medium platforms with a newly designed digital payload. "We have heard interest expressed from smaller governments. The use of a digital, re-programmable payload and the miniaturization of electronics has made it possible to pack the same capability of a 4,000-kilogram satellite into one half that size," said Eric Jensen, vice president of Boeing’s global commercial satellite sales.
Currently, Airbus is the closest competitor to Boeing in this segment of the market. Boeing declined to name any specific names of countries that have shown interest in the 702x satellite. However, Jensen hinted that the interested parties could be countries that are currently partners and users of the U.S. government’s Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) military constellation of geosynchronous orbit satellites. WGS partners include Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the Czech Republic.
"They're looking at this technology for bite-size versions that nations can use, re-purpose it for different missions. A country would decide, for example, to split the capacity for government use and for commercial, economic stimulus. A fully digital payload that can be reprogrammed makes this type of allocation relatively easy to do," said Jensen. “People are thinking differently about how to use this.” According to Boeing, it takes nearly two years to manufacture this spacecraft, and the company has been working to make it compatible with most launch vehicles.
The 702x can be launched as a primary payload as well as a secondary payload. United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Arianespace's Ariane 6 can deliver up to three payloads of 702x on each trip. "While there is a lot of marketing buzz about digital re-programmable, iPhone-like satellites, every one of these products is different," Jensen said. "For the 702x spacecraft, Boeing designed the payload to make it easier for customers to change the satellite’s missions and re-purpose capacity."
This allows satellite operators to shift from offering TV broadcast to broadband internet services, and at the same time reallocate capacity as they see fit. "You can shape and form beams, put a lot of throughput to a given region, so you don't waste energy over places where you don’t have customers,” Jensen said. “Old-school satellites can cover an entire country, but it’s hard to parse and distribute data.”
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