The KA SAT satellite that will provide greatly expanded broadbeam internet services to European and Mediterranean businesses and homes was launched on Sunday, December 27 as shown in a Networkworld YouTube Video. The satellite was released after 9 hours and 12 minutes of flight.
This is a big launch and a big event. The satellite carries 82 spotbeams that have a total capacity of 900 megabytes per second (mbps). The spotbeams will communicate with 10 ground stations to produce more capacity than any other satellite/ground station deployment in the world.
In addition, the KA SAT system produces over 70 Gbps of throughput to support Earthbound users who do not get service from terrestial internet services. Throughput is the amount of data in packets or in bits per second that can be transmitted over a communication channel.
Top News reports that International Launch Services (ILS), a Virginia based company that has exclusive rights to the commercial sales and mission management of the KA SAT and other satellites that are launched from Russian Proton Breeze class rockets like the one that was launched on Sunday.
The firm that commissioned the flight is Eutelsat Communications. Based in Paris, France, the firm bills itself as one of the top three fixed satellite operators in the world and as a leading European satellite firm.
Since 1996, Russia has offered a Proton family of launch vehicles with an upper stage propellant that can be stored. This makes the vehicle more economical to fly. The Proton Breeze series has allowed the launch and deployment of many communication satellites into geosynchronous orbit and is usually built and launched for commercial missions. All proton class vehicles are built at the Krunichev plant in Russia, then transported to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for launch, according to a Wikipedia article.
The Proton Breeze class had its first successful launch in 2002, shortly before the 300th successful launch of any proton family vehicle. since the first commercial launch in 1996.
Spot beam technology refers to the focused transmission of data through multiple beam antennas (MBA). There are Ka-band (27 GHz to 40 GHz) frequencies, there are pencil-like spot beams and there is something called bent pipe technology.
Spot beams involve using several beams to provide the same coverage as single beams of another type. Each spot beam could be compared to a cell in a cellular network. The spot beam technology is desirable for some things because the frequency spectrum can be reused multiple times.
As a result, the KA SAT system launch is not just for the technology buffs. The impact of proton space vehicles, spot beams and multinational efforts to get commercial infrastructures into space reveals an effort to bring vastly more communication ability to many in the world who do not have it.