New estimations show that the upcoming Jupiter-3 geostationary communications satellite will be the heaviest commercial geostationary satellite ever launched.
Jupiter-3, also known as Echostar 24, is being built by Maxar Technologies for Hughes Network Systems, a subsidiary of EchoStar. The satellite was scheduled to launch at the end of 2022, after initially being planned to launch mid-way through the year, but delays to several Maxar spacecraft, including Jupiter-3, mean that it is now likely to launch in early 2023.
"This delay is due in part to relocation of critical resources at Maxar to a higher priority government-related spacecraft project," said Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes Networks Systems.
"Maxar's manufacturing facilities are very active building a multitude of government, civil and commercial customer satellites. EchoStar is a valued customer of Maxar. We're working hard and looking forward to successful completion of the Jupiter-3 satellite for them," Maxar wrote in an email on May 5th.
Maxar has also revealed that the satellite's launch weight will be approximately 9,200 kilograms (~20,300 pounds), up from the previous estimation of 5,817 kilograms (~12,825 pounds) at lift-off. The satellite will be the heaviest spacecraft to launch into a geostationary orbit. It will increase broadband capacity for the Americas, Canada, and Mexico, delivering a maximum bandwidth of 500 gigabits per second.
Hughes Network Systems has selected SpaceX to launch the satellite to space, which SpaceX will achieve with its Falcon Heavy rocket. Initially, the Falcon 9 was reported to be the delivery vehicle of choice. However, that can only deliver payloads of up to 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) to geostationary orbits. By comparison, Falcon Heavy can deliver payloads of up to 26,700 kilograms (58,900 pounds) to geostationary orbits and has more lift capacity than any other rocket in active service.
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