Safran Data Systems is working with satellite communications firm Viasat to develop the InRange rocket telemetry system so it can be used by space launch providers and spaceports.
The France-based testing equipment and instrumentation supplier, which offers a range of telemetry products used in aerospace testing, agreed terms with Viasat last month to jointly bring the InRange solution to market.
InRange will relay launch vehicles’ telemetry in flight throughout their trajectory using satellite tracking, eliminating the need to use ground networks.
Safran will provide its telemetry antennas, onboard transmitters, and Cortex modems for the InRange system. The companies will also explore different commercial models to allow launchers to purchase and use the tracking solution.
InRange uses Viasat’s global L-band satellite fleet, which Viasat operates following the acquisition of UK-based satellite company Inmarsat in May 2023 to provide real-time telemetry data for launch missions.
Viasat plans to flight test the InRange system next year using a Skyrora sub-orbital Skylark L rocket as part of a joint contract with the European Space Agency.
The use of space-based communications will allow launch mission controllers to monitor the performance of missions beyond the line of sight, without the need for ground communications infrastructure. It can also prevent blackout zones – when a launch vehicle moves into an area not covered by Earth-based connectivity.
InRange is part of Viasat’s wider in-orbit communications services which are designed to enable real-time data transfer between satellites in different orbits, for uses like government communications, earth observation, or climate monitoring. This includes the IDRS space relay service, which enables operators to command and control Low Earth Orbit satellites whatever the mission.
Gary Lay, vice president of Viasat’s strategic programmes said, “In the last 10 years we’ve seen the commercial launch industry really take off. Accurate telemetry is a critical part of any launch mission, so global connectivity that provides accurate, real-time data could be game changing as we continue to see rapid growth.”
“InRange is designed to give launch operators greater flexibility and reliability for their launch telemetry. This partnership with Safran is aiming to bring the service to market faster and help it become an indispensable tool for mission success.”
Jean-Marie Bétermier, director of Safran Electronics and Defense Space said “Meeting the new needs of launch operators is our main objective at Safran Data Systems. We have been anticipating them over the last few years and are proud of the progress made with this InRange service offered jointly with Viasat.
“This is a great recognition of our expertise in the field of advanced telemetry, as we can provide data in real time and continuously, whatever the position of the launch vehicle.”