The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems-built Block 5 Predator B/MQ-9 UAS was able to transition between the two spot beams on one of Intelsat EpicNG satellites – Intelsat 29e – to facilitate sensor data and command-and-control transmissions while flying 1,075 nautical miles during the test, Intelsat General said Wednesday.
The Intelsat EpicNG platform is designed to support military and government users by increasing the satellite’s throughput and providing anti-jamming and interference-mitigation capabilities.
“The images and other data collected by unmanned aircraft systems are critical for many military operations,” said Skot Butler, president of Intelsat General.
“These tests demonstrate the capability of the high-throughput Intelsat EpicNG platform to support aircraft as they travel long distances across multiple spot beams,” Butler added.
Intelsat General and GA-ASI secured a certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct the test on the MQ-9 drone without the need for a “chase aircraft.”
Intelsat currently operates five on-orbit EpicNG satellites and intends to launch the sixth satellite in 2019 to provide coverage across the Pacific Ocean, Australia and McMurdo Station in Antarctica.