A "LEO-to-GEO" technology illustration. Credits: Rocket Lab/Viasat

Viasat and Rocket Lab Collaborate on LEO Communication Network

Viasat and Rocket Lab collaborate to innovate LEO satellite communication, showcasing on-demand, low-latency data relay services

Viasat has announced a strategic partnership with Rocket Lab USA. The partnership aims to showcase on-demand, low-latency data relay services for LEO satellites, hoping to mark a significant milestone in space communication technology.

A "LEO-to-GEO" technology illustration. Credits: Rocket Lab/Viasat
A “LEO-to-GEO” technology illustration. Credits: Rocket Lab/Viasat

Viasat, a global leader in satellite communications, has selected Rocket Lab to support its NASA Communications Services Project (CSP) program. Under this initiative, the company will demonstrate its multi-band space-relay capabilities, effectively addressing the pressing need for enhanced communication systems in space missions.


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The technology

The core focus of these demonstrations is to highlight Viasat’s portfolio of multi-band, space-based relay communication services tailored for LEO space missions. These services promise substantial flexibility in data management, offering lower data latency and higher throughput in real-time—a critical advancement for space communication.

Notably, LEO satellites traditionally encounter challenges with direct line-of-sight communication to ground stations, resulting in significant data latency during mission operations. Viasat’s Ka- and L-band relay solutions are specifically engineered to mitigate this challenge by facilitating near real-time, low-data latency communications.

Moreover, the Real-Time Space Relay (RTSR) space-qualified Ka-band terminal will harness Viasat’s high-capacity Ka-band satellite network in GEO, providing LEO operators with on-demand access to mission-critical data.

Additionally, the InCommand system, leveraging Viasat’s L-band network, will enable real-time telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) operations throughout the spacecraft’s orbit.

Rocket Lab’s contribution to the partnership includes the provision of a new L-band radio, named Frontier, designed to support various TT&C applications within the InCommand system.

Scheduled for launch in early 2026, the demonstration mission will showcase direct-to-ground communications through Viasat’s Real-Time Earth (RTE) Ground-Station-as-a-Service for S-, X-, and Ka-bands.


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Michael Maughan, Vice President of Space and Mission Systems at Viasat Government Systems, expressed pride in supporting NASA with this critical mission. “We designed our space relay services to be a highly flexible, cost effective and scalable solution for both government and commercial LEO operators to transport data based on application and mission needs,” he added.

“Rocket Lab spacecraft are built on configurable, high-performance subsystems based on constellation-class manufacturing,” said Brad Clevenger, Vice President of Space Systems at Rocket Lab. Additionally, he also expressed enthusiasm for supporting Viasat on the NASA CSP mission, noting the value it adds to its company’s responsive satellite communications capabilities.

Rocket Lab’s 33rd Electron mission. Credits: Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s 33rd Electron mission. Credits: Rocket Lab

The Rocket Lab spacecraft will serve as the backbone for the mission demonstration, providing essential power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control.

Moreover, it will incorporate a suite of satellite components and subsystems, including star trackers, reaction wheels, solar panels, S-band radios, flight software, and ground software.


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Edoardo Giammarino

Edoardo Giammarino

Co-Founder & Administrator. Drummer and Red Cross Volunteer, born in 1997. I like analog photography and videomaking. Firmly music-addicted.

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