Since its foundation, Ovzon’s goal has always been to send up its own satellites in order to fully leverage the company’s unique technology. Now that goal is close, in 2019 funding was secured for manufacturing and launch of the first satellite and in conjunction with that, the manufacturing was started in partnership with Maxar.
The launch of this first satellite, Ovzon 3, is planned for the second half of 2021 – perhaps the most important goal to date in the company’s history. Ovzon 3 will make higher data speeds and new services possible. Ovzon’s current communication service runs on leased capacity on other operators’ satellites. Using the company’s unique technology for both communication and terminals – which send and receive signals – the company already has an offering that yields significantly faster data transfer than its competitors. The future proprietary satellite entails a number of advantages for Ovzon’s customers:
Advantages of a proprietary satellite:
With proprietary satellites, Ovzon’s patented technology can be fully utilized.
1. Increased control
With a proprietary satellite, the company can control which portion of the Earth’s surface communication to cover and can better customize its services. By adapting the satellite to Ovzon’s service (broadband) and technology, the satellite is adapted to our customers’ needs. Ovzon has control over the design of the satellite, the technology onboard, regulatory issues and any potential relocation and steering of the satellite in space.
2. Faster service
At present, Ovzon’s broadband service is significantly faster than its closest competitor. With a proprietary satellite, the strength and speed of the communication offered can be further increased.
3. Possibility of smaller terminals
Ovzon’s terminals, developed in-house, are currently the smallest and most mobile on the market. The company’s T5 model compares in size with a laptop. With Ovzon 3 carrying the company’s unique technology and being adapted in accordance with the company’s services, the terminal used by the customer on the ground can be shrunk further and made more mobile, which is of extreme importance for Ovzon’s customer segment. In principle, terminals the size of a handheld computer that have broadband capacity could be developed.
4. New functionality
With Ovzon 3, Ovzon introduces its on-board processor (OBP), developed in-house, which functions as the brains of the satellite. The OBP makes it possible to offer new functionality – for example, single-hop routing, which means a user on the ground can communicate directly with another user via the satellite. Previously, users communicated with one another through a signal being sent to the satellite and then bouncing around via a gateway on the Earth’s surface up to the satellite again and then down to the recipient. With single-hop routing, the signal no longer needs to bounce around via a gateway – communication between users goes directly via the satellite. This means delays decrease, bandwidth and security increase and the risk of signal disruptions diminishes.
From blueprint to high-tech satellite in orbit:
The manufacture of Ovzon’s first proprietary satellite, Ovzon 3, commenced in the summer of 2019. Manufacturing a new – and for Ovzon, customized – satellite requires meticulous preparations. The work in partnership with Maxar and Arianespace – two highly experienced partners in manufacturing and launches – is progressing according to plan and can be divided into a few phases:
1. Planning, design and sourcing
Even though Ovzon has been working on the design of Ovzon 3 for several years, the work gained momentum in the summer of 2019, as did planning for the entire process. At the same time, Maxar also began sourcing components for the satellite and manufacturing subsystems. This initial phase was concluded in January and February 2020 with a preliminary design review (PDR). It was thereby established together with the company’s partner, Maxar, that the main design met all of Ovzon’s requirements.
2. Detailed design
The design in detail of all the subsystems and components is specified in this phase. Subsystem assembly and installation also commences. In addition, qualification tests are performed on subsystems and units. This phase also includes a critical design review (CDR), which began in Q1 2020 with a CDR at the subsystem level and will conclude in the summer of 2020 with a CDR at the system level.
3. Manufacture, testing and verification
Final manufacture and assembly of all satellite parts will take place at Maxar in Palo Alto, California. Components and parts will be delivered from around the world including Sweden, where several important units are being developed. The final testing of functionality, assembly and quality will take place at Maxar, which will also verify that the satellite meets all the specified requirements. At the end of the period, a pre-shipment review (PSR) will be conducted.
4. Launch of the satellite
After the PSR, the satellite will be sent to the satellite launch facility in French Guiana in South America, south of the Caribbean archipelago. Considering the size of the satellite, the transportation itself is complicated. The launch site is ideal since the satellite will be transported to an orbit over the equator. The launch is scheduled for the second half of 2021. The satellite will be sent upon an Arianespace 5 rocket and released at an altitude of 250 kilometres. The satellites’ journey to its determined orbital position begins from there. It will take several months for Ovzon 3 to move into position. The journey itself will be unique. The satellite will manoeuvre with the help of a rocket engine that uses a process called electrically powered propulsion, in which an ionized gas is expelled from the engine and gives rise to adjustable propulsion. The electrically powered propulsion method is extremely efficient for its weight, which gives the satellite a long service life and the excellent overall economy.
5. The satellite in place
Once the satellite is in place in its orbital position, the communication system – Ovzon’s unique OBP – and other functionality will be tested. These in-orbit tests (IOTs) will take around a month. After that, the satellite will be operational.
Launch planning in parallel
The launch is being planned with Ovzon’s partner Arianespace in parallel with the phases outlined above. This work commenced in 2019, and a mission analysis was started in Q1 2020. It encompasses calculations of the course and the orbit the rocket will take, and where the satellite will be released. The satellite’s weight, rigidity and centre of gravity are crucial parameters in this equation. After the CDR, the mission analysis will be updated and prepared.