The UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have announced a significant collaboration to develop an in-orbit telemetry relay service called "InRange."
This collaboration builds upon a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed by both space agencies in 2021.
Under this framework, InRange is jointly funded, with UKSA contributing through its International Bilateral Fund and JAXA providing support for the transmitter and antenna development for the H3 launch vehicle by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI). Viasat, a key partner in this endeavor, has been awarded a contract valued at £1.7 million by UKSA.
Viasat's InRange service aims to revolutionize launch capabilities worldwide by reducing the reliance on traditional ground-based infrastructure. It utilizes Viasat's geostationary ELERA L-band satellite network to provide a global in-orbit telemetry solution. By implementing the InRange service on the H3 Launch vehicle, launch trajectories can be optimized, eliminating the need for line-of-sight coverage with ground stations during critical launch stages. This has the potential to reduce the amount of fuel required for spacecraft delivery into orbit, increasing the available payload mass for launch customers.
Viasat will collaborate closely with MHI to validate and demonstrate the InRange service on an H3 launch, with additional support from Japanese company NEC Space Technologies, Ltd., focusing on the L-band transmitter design integrated into the H3 launch vehicle. JAXA will play a technical role in integrating InRange into the ground infrastructure.
The official documents regarding the bilateral collaboration for InRange were signed by representatives from both space agencies during the 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2023 BAKU).