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SES Partners with Planet for NASA Relay Network Contract

By | May 10, 2022

SES rendering of relay system for NASA’s Communications Services Project. Photo: SES

SES Government Solutions (SES GS) is bringing Planet Labs onto its team for a recently awarded NASA contract to develop and demonstrate near-Earth communication services.

NASA awarded SES GS a $28.96 million contract on April 20, along with contracts to Inmarsat Government, Kuiper Government Solutions, SpaceX, Telesat U.S. Services, and Viasat. This Communications Services Project (CSP) will develop high-rate and high-capacity two-way communications to replace NASA’s aging Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) constellation, which provides information relay services to the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, and other missions.

SES said Tuesday it will partner with Planet to develop a real-time low-latency connectivity solution enabled by SES’s Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) constellations, including O3b mPOWER to further NASA missions. Planet brings over a decade of experience in designing and manufacturing low-cost Earth observation satellites and radio communication systems.

Under the agreement, SES GS will complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025, with NASA intending to seek multiple long-term contracts to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030. The resulting satcom systems will be designed to serve both NASA mission requirements and commercial customers.

“Combining the multi-orbit capabilities of SES, the global leader in delivering content and connectivity solutions via satellite, with that of Planet Labs, one of the world’s leading commercial imaging companies, will create the world’s first high-throughput commercial space relay service, enabling timely and data-driven decisions,” commented retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Pete Hoene, president and CEO of SES Government Solutions.