Astrolink was a global communications satellite joint venture backed by Lockheed Martin and disbanded since late 2001. The plan was also backed by Liberty Media, TRW Inc., and Telespazio. It aimed to be one of the first satellite internet systems with a launch aimed for 2004. According to the president of the joint venture, the system mainly targeted “multinational corporations and government, and small to medium enterprises”.
The program was intended to work together with Motorola in order to create ground-based infrastructure for the satellite communications network in order to provide full ground and satellite services to customers.
The system planned to use four satellites based on the Lockheed Martin A2100 satellite bus, with a maximum of nine satellites depending on the success of the project. According to the Lockheed Martin Space Systems president Pete Kujawski, Astrolink would have allowed customers to purchase only throughput they needed rather than a much wider throughput, allowing clients to transmit data more affordably. Additionally, it used the Ka band which enables very high bandwidth.
In late October 2001, TRW, one of the partners of the venture, announced that the multibillion-dollar project was suspended due to insufficient funding. In 2003, the joint venture partner Liberty Media reached an agreement with the other partners to acquire and completely restructure the program, but the agreement was terminated by Liberty.
According to a report by the aviation magazine FlightGlobal, Astrolink likely failed due to a downturn in the communications satellite market that made the plan nonviable.
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