The future of GEO: large or small?
In early May, 2 GEO communications satellites launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket. It was supposed to be the next step in GEO satcom from two opposite ends of the market spectrum: Viasat’s 6-tonne powerhouse delivering massive capacity to compete with constellations, and Astranis’ Arcturus, a 300 kg platform meant to test both the “micro-GEO” and “as-a-service” models.
However, both satellites recently suffered failures; Viasat’s antenna will not deploy, and Arcturus cannot keep its solar arrays pointed at the Sun. Both missions may have to be scrapped, as a result.
As constellations continue to rise, and as a lack of GEO orders sheds doubt on this destination for communications satellites, two critical questions emerge: Is there a future for GEO communications, and which model is better, Viasat or Astranis?