May 20, 2023
An advanced broadband satellite that will demonstrate next-generation 5G connectivity by providing high-speed internet services has launched into space.
The beam-hopping satellite – nicknamed JoeySat after a baby kangaroo – will connect thousands of people travelling by air, sea or on land.
It was launched into low Earth orbit on 20 May on board a Space X Falcon 9 from Vandenberg in California.
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Beam-hopping satellites can rapidly switch their focus between different locations, enabling a single satellite to serve people living and travelling over a wide geographical area. Such satellites can also vary the power of their signals, instantly responding to surges in customer demand, for example, during emergencies when many people need to communicate with each other.
Developed under the Sunrise Partnership Project between ESA and telecommunications operator OneWeb with support from the UK Space Agency, JoeySat will demonstrate key technologies for OneWeb’s next generation constellation.
JoeySat’s fully digital and state-of-the-art payload was built using off-the-shelf components and a lean management style in less than a year after the contract was signed between ESA and OneWeb.
Its advanced digital regenerative payload was built by Satixfy in the UK and the payload environmental tests were completed in the UK.
Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technical Officer at OneWeb, said: “JoeySat reflects the spirit of innovation and collaboration in space and promises to enable OneWeb to continue enhancing the performance and capabilities of our high-speed, low-latency satellite network to areas in need. The innovation behind JoeySat would not be possible without ESA and the UK Space Agency, and we thank them for their invaluable partnership.”
Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “OneWeb’s JoeySat will be a game-changer for satellite communications, offering the chance to improve people’s lives through reliable connectivity, whether that means better broadband services in remote places, or the ability to respond more effectively to emergency situations.
“As part of our priority to deliver missions and capabilities to our flourishing space sector, the UK Space Agency has invested more than £50 million into the mission, funding both the innovative technology behind JoeySat’s creation and the development of a wider ecosystem that will ensure a reliable and sustainable end-to-end service.”
Javier Benedicto, Acting Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “ESA’s Partnership Projects maximise the benefits to agile space companies in Europe thanks to efficient co-management tailored to the best commercial practices. The Joeysat satellite demonstrator for OneWeb’s next-generation constellation is a superb example of this cooperation.”