American communications firm Viasat and French satellite launch company Arianespace have modified their ViaSat-3 satellite launch contract, which was signed in 2016.

Under the amended contract, the two companies have agreed to launch the ViaSat-3 on board the next-generation Ariane 64 (A64) launcher instead of the Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle.

Consequently, Viasat becomes the first commercial customer to commit to launch on the A64.

The A64 launcher is expected to maintain launch quality and reliability with greater mission effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility.

The A64 will have a modular configuration based on core stages powered by lower and upper liquid propellant modules. These will be supplemented by four solid rocket motors.

The configuration will also boost the performance to deliver the satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit, where it can begin operations faster.

The ViaSat-3 will be launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

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The company’s shift to the A64 launcher is part of its integrated launch strategy to bring on-time launch to all ViaSat-3 spacecraft through launch vehicle diversity as well as an integrated approach to launch planning.

The company said that it will announce specific mission assignments for the contracted launch vehicles later.

Viasat space and commercial networks president Dave Ryan said: “We have a long-standing partnership with Arianespace, and trust their A64 launcher will allow Viasat to meet key business objectives, which include bringing high-speed, high-quality broadband connectivity to end-users, worldwide.

“The A64 vehicle is a highly competitive launcher, and incorporates key features to ensure a more cost-effective, dependable ViaSat-3 spacecraft launch.”

The Ka-band satellites are expected to provide enhanced service speed and flexibility for a satellite platform.

While the first satellite will focus on the Americas and the second on Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the third satellite is planned for the APAC region.

Each satellite is expected to deliver more than 1tbps of network capacity and leverage high levels of flexibility to direct capacity to where customers are located.