In the next few days, a satellite is going to be launched that is host to a payload that will play a very important role in keeping Americans safe in the air, and helping airlines operate more effectively and efficiently. This payload is a component of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). The FAA WAAS is a terrestrial and satellite network that augments GPS and ensures greater precision in the routing and piloting of aircraft. Raytheon is the original developer of WAAS.
But WAAS isn’t just notable because of its important role and mission – the program is also notable because it utilizes hosted payloads aboard commercial satellites. The FAA WAAS relies on a number of satellites for sending updated GPS information to end users, and those satellite payloads are frequently launched as hosted payloads on the spacecraft of commercial satellite providers.
The new WAAS payload being launched will be hosted aboard SES-15, a Ku-band satellite that will provide HTS and wide-beam coverage from 129°W and will be managed by global COMSATCOM provider, SES.
The use of hosted payloads by the FAA for the WAAS program is notable because it’s a practice that – quite frankly – isn’t adopted as often and as widely as it should be across the federal government and Department of Defense. Although hosted payloads are capable of giving federal entities access to space in a more efficient and expedient fashion, they simply aren’t utilized frequently or consistently due to perceived risks and concerns about the lack of control over the spacecraft. But despite the reticence seen across the federal government, the FAA has been bullish about hosted payloads – utilizing them to put payloads in space for approximately two decades.
To better understand why the FAA is such a staunch believer in hosted payloads, get more information about WAAS and find out why WAAS payloads are perfect candidates to be hosted aboard commercial spacecraft, we sat down with two government satellite experts from SES GS – Tim Deaver, Corporate Vice President of Development, and Bryan Benedict, Senior Director of Innovation and Satellite Programs.
During our podcast discussion, Tim and Bryan talked about why it makes business sense for WAAS to be hosted on a COMSATCOM satellite, why the FAA is a leader in hosted payloads, and what other government agencies can learn from the FAA. Here is what they had to say:
To learn more about hosted payloads and how they can give government agencies and the Department of Defense more efficient and expedient access to space, click the following resources:
- Whitepaper: What is a Hosted Payload?
- Hosted Payloads Infographic
- PODCAST: Nicole Robinson on the benefits of hosted payloads for NOAA and other federal agencies
- PODCAST: CHIRP team discusses program and benefits of hosted payloads