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Viasat Discloses Anomaly on Viasat-3 

By Rachel Jewett | July 13, 2023

A rendering of the ViaSat-3 constellation. Photo: Viasat

Viasat is dealing with an unexpected anomaly with the reflector on its Viasat-3 satellite that “may materially impact” its performance. The company’s stock plunged after it released the news on Wednesday after market close, dropping from around $43 to $30 on Thursday. 

SpaceX launched the satellite on a Falcon Heavy mission on April 30. Viasat said an unexpected event happened when the reflector was deployed, but did not explain further. The operator and its reflector provider are conducting a “rigorous review” to evaluate the impact and what can be done. 

“We’re disappointed by the recent developments,” said Mark Dankberg, Chairman and CEO, Viasat. “We’re working closely with the reflector’s manufacturer to try to resolve the issue. We sincerely appreciate their focused efforts and commitment.”

Viasat said there is no impact to customers. The operator is working on contingency plans including redeploying satellites from its extensive fleet to optimize global coverage, and/or reallocating a subsequent ViaSat-3 class satellite to the Americas. 

Viasat did not name the reflector manufacturer. The operator previously mentioned Northrop Grumman and bus manufacturer Boeing as part of the satellite’s team, and Northrop Grumman has the AstroMesh reflector product family. Viasat has described the reflector as one of the largest ever sent into space, with an overall wingspan of 144 feet.

Viasat has staked its growth plans on the added capacity this satellite will bring to the market, particularly for residential broadband and aviation connectivity. 

The satellite is the first of three satellites in the ViaSat-3 constellation, and is positioned to cover the Americas. Viasat said the three-satellite constellation is expected to provide more capacity than any other telecommunication network currently in orbit. This satellite has been in the works since 2017.