Due to its high signal latency and susceptibility to weather interference, satellite-based internet hasn’t always been the most popular broadband option, but for many people in rural areas, satellite internet is still the only broadband option available. Since the first consumer broadband satellites were launched in the late 90’s, space-based broadband has brought the Internet to millions of people in places that are out of reach of cable and fiber optic networks.
This weekend, an Atlas 5 Rocket took flight from Cape Canaveral and carried what is reportedly the highest-capacity broadband satellite ever made into a geostationary orbit over North America. The launch was briefly delayed by an avionics issue during the final moments of the countdown, but flight engineers had it back on track within a matter of minutes.
The satellite, EchoStar 19, was built by Space Systems Loral for the Maryland-based satellite Internet provider HughesNet. It’s expected to achieve a downlink throughput of about 220 gigabits per second—a 58 gigabit per second improvement over other similar satellites. Another EchoStar satellite was slated for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in August, but that launch was delayed due to the pre-flight explosion of a Falcon 9 on September 1, 2016. Now, the launch is expected to take place in early 2017.
In addition to being an important moment in the development of satellite Internet services, this launch was also something of a milestone for NASA’s Atlas 5 program. This was just the third launch of the 431 variant of the Atlas 5 rocket, which features a four meter payload fairing and three solid rocket boosters. In the future, the Atlas 5 431 is expected to carry many other cutting-edge communications satellites to orbit as well.
Stay tuned for more updates from your source for blazing-fast earthbound Internet—Connected Fiber.