Blue Origin and Viasat Want Government to Help Them Against SpaceX

Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper Laboratory previously lost a bid to build a human lunar lander for NASA to SpaceX. Jeff Bezos’ company bid $6 billion to build one lander but NASA awarded $2.89 billion to SpaceX.

Blue Origin’s team and Dynetics filed separate protests with the Government Accountability Office. The GAO has until Aug 4, 2021 to rule if NASA can keep its contract award with SpaceX.

There is now a battle in congress over a funding bill to award an additional $10 billion to at least two competitors for the human lunar lander system. Jeff Bezos has a few senators working for him but he is opposed by Bernie Sanders and others.

Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. The Washington Post is arguing in support of the additional NASA funding.

Viasat Asks for an Environmental Review and Halt of SpaceX Launches

Viasat’s May 21 filing to the FCC argues that environmental harms should be reviewed before granting SpaceX’s satellite application. Viasat argues orbital debris, light pollution and the effect disintegrating satellites could have on the atmosphere.

If the FCC does not stop Space Starlink launches by June 1, then Viasat will go to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. They will ask for a stay and review of the modification order which permits Starlink launches.

In April, former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine joined Viasat’s board of directors.

Viasat uses traditional geostationary satellites located 22,000 miles above the Earth. Viasat offers plans up to 100 Mbps in select regions with most areas having access to plans of up to 30 Mbps. This is roughly equal to some faster DSL plans. Upload speeds max out at 3 Mbps. The 44,000 mile round trip to and from the geostationary satellite adds 600 – 800 milliseconds of latency to the connection. This makes satellite internet completely unsuitable for anything latency sensitive including VoIP and online gaming.

Viasat has a lower data cap. Viasat plans range between 12 and 100 gigabytes per month in high-speed bandwidth. This is not enough if you plan to use streaming video services including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and YouTube for more than a few hours per month.

SpaceX Starlink latency is about 30-80 milliseconds. The average is about 40 milliseconds. SpaceX has downloads speeds of about 40-150 Mbps. SpaceX Starlink has about 30 Mbps upload speeds.

If SpaceX continues to launch then the extra satellites will double the number of people who could use the system by the end of 2021 and could double the number of users on the system again by the end of 2022. SpaceX Starlink has 500,000 pre-orders.

Viasat plans range from $69.99 up to $149.99 for most residential plans. They offer discounts for the first 3 months of service. Commercial plans are available at an additional cost. This is expensive compared to other non satellite options especially when you factor in the data caps.

Viasat installation costs $99 .99 and equipment rental cost about $10 per month for the lifetime of your service.

Starlink internet service costs $99 per month during the public beta. This is similar to top tier packages from Comcast and Verizon. Speeds are currently lower than what most people get with similarly priced terrestrial services.

The Starlink equipment starter kit costs $499 and includes everything you need to get started using Starlink internet service.

Viasat reported stable revenue of $2.3 billion for its 2021 fiscal year. Viasat’s 2021 results showed a boost in operating income and net income compared to the year prior. Operating income was $58.2 million, up from $38.4 million in fiscal year 2020. Net income was $3.7 million, up from $200,000 in fiscal year 2020. Government Systems is Viasat’s highest-performing segment, at about $1.1 billion in revenue for the year. Commercial Networks is the smallest segment, and reported $320.9 million in revenue. For FY2022, Viasat sees a strong outlook for Satellite Services, especially in In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) and enterprise markets.

SOURCES – Satellite Today, Wikipedia, Space News
Written By Brian Wang,