ViaSat-3 Experiences Major Issue During Reflector Deployment

Image: Viasat

The recently-launched ViaSat-3 Americas satellite has hit a major snag. 

Viasat ($VSAT) announced yesterday that an “unexpected event” occurred during the deployment of the satellite’s massive reflector that may degrade the performance of the communications satellite, which was supposed to grow the company’s broadband business in the Americas.

“We’re disappointed by the recent developments,” said Viasat chief Mark Dankberg. “We’re working closely with the reflector’s manufacturer to try to resolve the issue.”

Underscoring the gravity of the situation, the company is already making contingency plans to mitigate the economic impact, including: 

  • Redeploying in-orbit Viasat birds to optimize coverage.
  • Shuffling the locations of the next two ViaSat-3 satellites to cover the Americas. 

As of EOD Tuesday, $VSAT stock was down ~20% after hours. 

ViaSat-3: The broadband constellation consists of three massive 6,400 kg Ka-band GEO birds. Falcon Heavy launched the first of the three satellites on April 30. The company was able to make contact with the spacecraft 15 minutes after launch

The ViaSat-3 reflector was supposed to be deployed via a large boom arm, an offshoot of JWST’s sunshield mid-boom. The reflector is one of the largest ever made, helping the satellite focus signals and increase efficiency. 

What’s next? The company promised an update on the satellite and any other mitigation measures it will take during its earnings call on Aug. 9.

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