DoD signs $270 million agreement to acquire SES satellite communications services

By Sandra Erwin,
Published by Space News, 8 November 2023

The five-year agreement is for medium Earth orbit O3b satcom services

WASHINGTON — The global satellite operator SES will provide services to the U.S. Defense Department under a five-year agreement worth up to $270 million, the company announced Nov. 8.

The agreement is for satellite communications services from the SES O3b broadband constellation in medium Earth orbit. The contract is a task order awarded as part of a so-called blanket purchase agreement SES signed in 2018 with DoD’s Defense Information Systems Agency.

The blanket purchase agreement makes the O3b constellation available to the U.S. armed forces as a managed service. This includes broadband satellite services as well as gateway services, terminals, technical support, installation services, terrestrial backhaul and training.

SES, headquartered in Luxembourg, provides services to the U.S. government via its subsidiary SES Space & Defense, based in Reston, Virginia.

“The new blanket purchase agreement signifies the DoD’s continued interest in MEO as a cornerstone commercial satellite communications capability,” said David Fields, president and CEO of SES Space & Defense.

Technical problems in next-generation O3b satellites 

DoD for years has been a customer of SES’ O3b constellation. SES recently started deploying its next-generation O3b mPower satellites, which the company said will provide 10 times more throughput than the legacy O3b satellites.

However, electrical issues on the first four O3b mPower satellites will significantly reduce their operational life and broadband capacity, SES said last month.

SES interim CEO Ruy Pinto said getting the performance originally expected from the next-generation MEO constellation will require Boeing to build two more O3b mPower satellites than initially planned, alongside upgrades on five others already in the works.

See: Original Article