During a February 23 quarterly results call, EchoStar Corporation announced another setback in the deployment of the Jupiter-3 communications satellite, as well as the malfunction of two nanosatellites to enter their expected orbits. EchoStar executives shared enthusiasm about the launch of Maxar Technologies’ Jupiter-3 satellite, which will improve Ka-band capability in North as well as South America.
The deployment of Jupiter-3 has been pushed back to the second half of the year 2022, ” primarily attributed to COVID-19 constraints that every firm is facing and also in part due to manufacturing problems with some modules,” according to Pradman Kaul, who serves as the president of Hughes Network Systems. “We are working very closely with Maxar to both alleviate these problems and find ways to reclaim the schedule without placing the satellite at risk.”
The launch vehicle for the Jupiter-3 has been chosen by EchoStar, but it has yet to be announced. The large rocket was chosen, according to Kaul, “should restrict the period of time linked to satellite orbit increasing, assisting our in-service plan.” EchoStar also suffered a drawback when the propulsion mechanisms on two nanosatellites it launched into low Earth orbit to utilize spectrum obtained from the internet-of-things company Helios Wire in 2019 malfunctioned.
The two nanosatellites wanted to adjust their altitude as well as inclination after arriving in orbit on different rideshare flights. “The propulsion onboard the spaceship malfunctioned in both cases,” stated Anders Johnson, president of EchoStar Satellite Services. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems sold EchoStar the two S-band cubesats.
“I can verify that owing to the third-party propulsion platform not working nominally, the vehicles did not exceed the maximum operational altitude,” Marco Villa, president and chief operating officer of Tyvak said via email. In the second or even third quarter of the year, EchoStar aims to deploy another nanosatellite with a unique propulsion system.
In the fourth quarter of the year 2020, EchoStar’s overall financial results, as calculated by Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA), improved by 7% over the fourth quarter of the year 2019. As a result of the higher operating profits, lower interest costs, increased foreign currency sales, and investment gains, EchoStar posted a $2.6 million net loss from the fourth-quarter continuing operations, relative to a $53.7 million net loss one year ago. Hughes had 1.56 million broadband consumers as of December 31.
Via its Hughes Network Systems as well as EchoStar Satellite Services business divisions, EchoStar Corporation is a multinational provider of the satellite communication as well as Internet services. Just before 2008, it was the parent company of DISH Network, which was spun off as DISH effective from January 1, 2008.