ViaSat has been awarded a new contract by the US Air Force (USAF).

The satellite operator last week announced it will work with the US Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center (USAF LCMC) to ‘transition and integrate new technologies’ and capabilities as part of a $900 million ceiling, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract.

– Viasat

Under the multi-award contract – known as LCMC XA IDIQ – Viasat is expected to prototype and test systems, hardware, software, and cybersecurity solutions for the USAF. The contract has an approximate five-year term, with options for up to an additional five years.

Viasat said it has been selected for each of the three categories under the contract: ‘Development Planning’ to transition technology from lab to operational use; ‘Systems Development’ will see emerging systems, hardware, and software incorporated into existing platforms and tested in operational environments; while ‘Synthetic Environment Development’ will allow the directorate to build advanced models and simulations based on real-life scenarios (digital twins) to perform operational assessments.

“Resilient communications and communications security are critical for military operations, and the USAF has been clear they need to move technology from development to at-scale operational use quicker than ever,” said Susan Miller, president of Viasat Government. “This award provides the means to work directly with the Air Force research, development, and operational communities to transition a huge range of developments, which can all ultimately help deliver mission success.”

In other recent satellite news:

- Lynk Global, a LEO satellite operator offering direct-to-cell satellite services, is planning a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The company is set to merge with Slam Corp later in 2024. Slam was founded by former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez and raised $575 million, listing on the Nasdaq in February 2021. The company now has less than $99 million on hand after a number of shareholders have taken their investments back.

- Amazon Web Services has launched a new ground station antenna location in Alaska. It is the 12th AWS ground station location globally.

- Spanish defense firm Indra is reportedly looking to sell €800 million ($876.7m) in assets to buy a stake in Hispasat. Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI), a Spanish state-holding company, is an investor in both companies, though Red Eléctrica holds a majority stake in the satellite firm.

- The UK government has lost around £200 million ($252.5m) after the value of its stake in OneWeb dropped in the wake of its merger with Eutelsat. The UK invested some £400 million ($505m) into OneWeb in 2020 in the wake of the LEO operator’s bankruptcy.

- The Chinese spy balloon that was shot down in US airspace early last year relied on an unnamed US ISP to transmit data. NBC reports the balloon used the connection to send high-bandwidth burst transmissions over short periods to send and receive communications from China, primarily related to its navigation.

- NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are planning to launch the world's first wooden satellite into space. The LignoSat will be made from magnolia and is due to launch in the summer of 2024 and aims to make space debris more biodegradable.

- Dish has completed its merger with EchoStar.

- An expansion of HAPS spectrum use was formally agreed upon at ITU-R's World Radiocommunication Conference 2023. SoftBank led proposals to add three additional mobile spectrum bands – 700-900MHz, 1.7GHz, and 2.5GHz – for HAPS use.