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Viasat Partners With Loft Orbital for NASA Communications Services Project

By Rachel Jewett | May 10, 2024

      An artist rendering of a NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) in orbit. Photo: NASA

      Viasat has selected Loft Orbital as its partner for work on the Real-Time Space Relay (RTSR) service for NASA. Under this deal, Viasat’s Ka-band space terminal will be integrated on a Loft spacecraft along with multiple commercial payloads.

      The demonstration is part of Viasat’s work for NASA’s Communications Services Project. Viasat received a $53.3 million award in 2022 to demonstrate a radio frequency Geostationary Ka-band relay network. The CSP is evaluating commercial capabilities for near-Earth communications to replace the aging Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system.

      The mission is anticipated to launch in Fall 2025. Viasat hopes it will demonstrate how the will Viasat RTSR service enhances Loft Orbital’s space infrastructure offering with a new real-time connectivity resource. 

      “Loft is proud to partner with Viasat on NASA’s Communications Services Project to provide the infrastructure for this important capability,” said Loft CEO Pierre-Damien Vaujour. “The addition of Viasat’s relay service to our space infrastructure will let our virtual mission customers deploying AI applications have continuous real-time access to their mission for time-critical applications.”

      In March, Viasat also selected Rocket Lab for work on the CSP. Rocket Lab will provide a spacecraft bus and mission operation support