SES sends new half-a-billion satellite into space
Luxembourg's SES sent its biggest and most advanced satellite in the company's history off into outer space on Sunday, it said, after a last-minute delay.
The SES-17 - a half-billion-euro investment that will enable passengers and crews to use WiFi aboard planes - lifted off from its launch pad in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.
The flight for the satellite, ordered in 2016, ran into a one-day delay due to additional ground checks, France's Arianespace had said on Friday.
SES-17 will now spend several months finding its permanent slot hovering 36,000 km over the American continents, the company said.
The satellite’s main mission will be to sell access to high-speed Wi-Fi connections for airline passengers and crews while in flight.
The spacecraft will cost Société Européenne des Satellites more than €500 million to build, launch and operate and marks a milestone in SES's bet of billions of euros on its future.
Data network access to and from points around the world made up 41% of SES revenues in 2020, the company reported in February. The segment is expected to grow rapidly, at the same time that money from TV broadcasters that currently provides SES with the bulk of its income slowly fades.
The giant new satellite also is expected to be integrated with nearly a dozen new units below it, all orbiting Earth at about 8,000km. The first handful of these middle-Earth-orbit craft are to be launched later this year and more in early 2022, SES said. These O3b mPower satellites – which feature connections to the Earth's surface that are milliseconds faster than the farther-away SES-17 – will be integrated with their bigger cousin to reach similar customers.
These include cruise and cargo ships at sea; jets in the air; oil, gas and mining sites in remote locations; mobile phone network operators and military forces and government agencies, SES said.