Viasat is working with Safran Data Systems to jointly bring InRange to market so launch providers and spaceports can relay launch vehicles' telemetry in flight throughout their trajectory and without having to rely on ground networks.
The I-5 F4 satellite was launched by SpaceX on a Falcon 9 rocket, May 2017.
InRange uses Viasat's global L-band satellite fleet - which Viasat now operates following the acquisition of Inmarsat in May - to provide real-time telemetry data for launch missions. By using space-based communications, InRange will allow launch mission controllers to monitor the performance of missions beyond the line of sight, without the need for ground communications infrastructure. A global satellite communications network can also prevent so-called 'blackout zones' when a launch vehicle moves into an area not covered by Earth-based connectivity.
Under the MoU, Safran Data Systems will provide its telemetry antennas, onboard transmitters and Cortex modems to support the InRange system for commercial launch systems virtually anywhere in the world. The companies will also explore different commercial models to allow launchers to purchase and use the InRange system 'off the shelf'.
The move will be another commercial milestone for InRange, following a recent European Space Agency joint contract to test the system on Skyrora's sub-orbital Skylark L launch vehicle next year.
InRange is part of Viasat's wider in-orbit communications services which are designed to enable real-time data transfer between satellites in different orbits, for uses like government communications, earth observation, or climate monitoring. This includes the IDRS space relay service, which enables operators to command and control Low Earth Orbit satellites whatever the mission.
Gary Lay, Vice President of Viasat's Strategic Programmes, said: "In the last 10 years we've seen the commercial launch industry really take off with many private launch providers coming to market. Accurate telemetry is a critical part of any launch mission, so global connectivity that provides accurate, real-time data could be game changing as we continue to see rapid growth."
"InRange is designed to give launch operators greater flexibility and reliability for their launch telemetry. This partnership with Safran is aiming to bring the service to market faster and help it become an indispensable tool for mission success."
Jean-Marie Bétermier, Safran Electronics & Defense Space Director, said: "Meeting the new needs of launch operators is our main objective at Safran Data Systems. We have been anticipating them over the last few years and are proud of the progress made with this InRange service offered jointly with Viasat. This is a great recognition of our expertise in the field of advanced telemetry, as we can provide data in real time and continuously, whatever the position of the launch vehicle."