The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems-built Block 5 Predator B/MQ-9Â UAS was able to transition between the two spot beams on one of Intelsat EpicNG satellites â€“ Intelsat 29e â€“ 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 satelliteâ€™s throughput and providing anti-jamming and interference-mitigation capabilities.
â€œThe images and other data collected by unmanned aircraft systems are critical for many military operations,â€ said Skot Butler, president of Intelsat General.
â€œThese tests demonstrate the capability of the high-throughput Intelsat EpicNGÂ platform to support aircraft as they travel long distances across multiple spot beams,â€ 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 â€œchase aircraft.â€
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.