Offering More Resilient SATCOM

“Resilience”can be defined in the satellite communications field as the ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation.

To offer resilient SATCOM, a company needs to meet changing customer service requirements and to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Being able to do so requires:

  • Relocation of satellites globally along the geostationary arc (over land masses and ocean regions).
  • Re-pointing/biasing of existing satellite beams/footprints.
  • Leveraging orbital slots and satellite role strategies.
  • Entering strategic relationships with regional satellite operators/administrations to use their orbital slots.
  • Partnering/teaming with other satellite operators and equipment vendors to fulfill customer requirements.
  • Global service and restoration of traffic across a large fleet.
  • Design and modification of future planned satellites and beams/footprints with customers in mind.
  • Implementation of a robust satellite launch schedule.

Having access to the largest commercial satellite fleet in the world adds to Intelsat General’s resiliency by enabling us to offer our customers solutions such as hosted payloads and inclined orbit (IO) mode.

Hosted payloads

As we’ve discussed on this site, hosted customer payloads provide tailored solutions to specific mission requirements compared to dedicated satellite projects. These include diversity of coverage and purpose; shorter planning cycle and fiscal analyses; and significantly lower costs (bus, launch/ride share, operations &support).

For example the Australian Defense Force (ADF) owns the UHF hosted payload and 15 years of operation on the soon-to-be-launched Intelsat IS-22 satellite at 72°east.The ADF estimates that the hosted payload approach will save Australian taxpayers $150M compared to a dedicated satellite.

Inclined Orbit mode

Inclined orbit operation extends the operational life of a satellite by terminating north-south station keeping and using the saved propellant for an extended period of east-west station keeping. This allows IGC to provide customers with additional capacity to meet surge requirements and critical backup for failed satellites. IGC currently supports IO operations on five satellites (with more IO coming online) located throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean Regions.

Here’s what that kind of resiliency looks like in the field. In early 2009 a third-party satellite supporting UAV Predator operations for a strategic government customer failed. IGC relocated the Galaxy-26 (G-26) satellite from the continental United States (CONUS) to the Middle East. This relocation restored 432 MHz of bandwidth, enough to support up to 40 simultaneous Predator missions.

This relocation first required the off-loading of existing G-26 customers to other CONUS satellites. Then G-26 was fast-drifted 144 degrees, from CONUS to its current orbital location. Finally, the Predator bandwidth was transferred to G-26. All of these steps were completed in less than 60 days.

That’s the kind of flexible, resilient SATCOM that IGC provides for our military customers. In today’s new C4ISR environment, nothing less will do. 

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