Though ViaSat has been around since the ’80s, the communications technology company has grown in recent years with the release of more diverse services. The company will soon launch the ViaSat-2 satellite, with the ViaSat-3 global constellation to follow. Trajectory spoke with Jerry Goodwin, chief operating officer of ViaSat’s Government Systems division, to learn more about the organization’s advancements.
What GEOINT-specific services does ViaSat offer?
We have a long legacy in large antennas and Earth observation, but ViaSat has been moving from a product and component company to a services company, specifically internet and network services. Our customer base is changing from, for example, putting together a system for GEOINT applications to turnkey services. Our technology is trending in a direction that is not so componentized, but more deliverable to any location globally. Capacity is not the limitation, and for GEOINT that’s a big deal because a lot of the product is imagery, which takes up a lot of space. We are transitioning to effectively serve the customer base.
How has ViaSat’s role in the GEOINT Community evolved since the company launched in the ’80s?
When ViaSat started out we had very little role in the GEOINT Community. We were focused on some DoD communications, but none applicable to GEOINT. The kind of things we make now are a lot more applicable to the GEOINT Community than the early days when we built things like modems and widgets that supported tactical communications. We’ve grown out of that as the main part of our business and moved to more service and system solutions.
A big part of our business that has evolved in the last 15 years is encryption. In fact we just released a KG-142 National Security Agency-certified Type 1 Ethernet encryptor. Those kinds of things are enablers for our customers and are very relevant for things like the IC Cloud. The folks standing up those clouds are engaged with us to secure their cloud infrastructure.
What is something most people don’t know about your company?
What I think people find most surprising is the breadth of solutions we provide; we have a wide array of stuff going on. The company really ranges across a large class of communication problems.
People might not know that we provide ISR services for air platforms around the world as well as computer security services for air platforms for government leaders and military commanders. Our Link 16 products use anti-jam situational awareness for fighter jets and we figured out how to miniaturize that technology and put that in a handheld radio so troops on the ground can use it for digitally-aided strike and targeting.
We launched ViaSat-1 in 2011 and at the time it was the highest capacity satellite in the world. We filled that up pretty fast so we’re launching ViaSat-2 this spring. It’s exciting for us because every time we are able to put more capacity into space, we can serve more customers. We also announced a new global constellation of satellites called ViaSat-3.
Capacity has been an important trend in the satellite industry. ViaSat-1 was a huge leap forward in the industry with capacity of 140 gigabytes per second and, at the time, it was 15 times more than what was generally up in space. ViaSat-2 is about twice that in capacity, and ViaSat-3 is one terabyte per satellite. For the GEOINT customer base, we offer a worldwide constellation with high capacity attribute and resilient anti-jam performance.
How has ViaSat benefited from USGIF Organizational Membership since it joined in 2013?
We’ve benefited from the opportunity to get involved with the community and talk to leadership to understand what they need. As a company we value that kind of information because it helps us think about what we should be doing to serve the customer base.
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