Inmarsat Selects H-IIA to Launch First Inmarsat-6 Satellite

H-IIA launch (Credit: JAXA)

LONDON, 12 September 2017 (Inmarsat PR) — Inmarsat has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as the launch provider for the first satellite in the Inmarsat-6 fleet.

The satellite, Inmarsat-6 F1, is under construction by Airbus Defence and Space. It is scheduled for launch in 2020 using MHI’s H-IIA launch vehicle.

Inmarsat’s sixth generation (I-6) fleet will be the first to feature dual-payload satellites, each supporting L-band and Ka-band services. The I-6 satellites will represent a step change in the capacity of Inmarsat’s L-band services, supporting a new generation of capabilities – from advanced global safety services and very low cost mobile services to Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
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SpaceX Launches Inmarsat Satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster launched the Inmarsat 5 F4 communications satellite on Monday from Pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was SpaceX’s sixth launch of 2017. Due to the demands of the mission, SpaceX did not attempt to recover the first stage.

According to the Inmarsat:

Inmarsat-5 F4 (I-5 F4) will boost the power of our award-winning Global Xpress network, which has been delivering seamless, high-speed broadband connectivity across the world since December 2015.

Like the other three satellites in our fifth generation fleet, I-5 F4 was built by Boeing in El Segundo, California as part of our investment of approximately US$1.6 billion in the first ever global Ka-band service from a single network operator.

Once in geostationary orbit, the satellite will provide additional capacity for Global Xpress users on land, at sea and in the air.

SpaceX Set to Launch Communications Satellite Tonight

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is targeting launch of Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 49-minute launch window opens on Monday, May 15, at 7:21 p.m. EDT, or 23:21 UTC. Watch the webcast here.

A backup launch window opens on Tuesday, May 16, at 7:21 p.m. EDT, or 23:21 UTC. SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to mission requirements.

A mission press kit is available here.

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SpaceX Loses Inmarsat Launch to Arianespace Due to Delays

Arianespace_logoLONDON, 8 December 2016 (Inmarsat PR) — Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has today signed a contract with Arianespace to launch its S-band satellite for the European Aviation Network (EAN) on an Ariane 5 heavy lift launch vehicle.  The EAN payload is part of a ‘condosat’ constructed by Thales Alenia Space, which incorporates a second payload for Hellas-Sat.  The condosat is scheduled to be launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in mid-2017.

The condosat was originally scheduled for launch with SpaceX.  However, following the delay in SpaceX’s launch schedule, Inmarsat and Hellas-Sat took the decision to move the condosat to an Arianespace launch.

Inmarsat will launch Inmarsat-5 F4, a Global Xpress (GX) satellite, with SpaceX.  This launch is planned for H1 2017 and Inmarsat is looking forward to continuing to work with SpaceX going forward.

“We are delighted with flexibility that Arianespace has shown in being able to provide a launch slot that enables us to place our European Aviation Network S-band satellite in orbit by mid-2017,” said Michele Franci, CTO, Inmarsat. “This launch schedule supports the introduction of our ground-breaking integrated satellite and air-to-ground network, developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, which will deliver a very high capacity broadband Wi-Fi experience for passengers flying throughout Europe.”

SpaceX Slips Falcon 9 Return to Flight into January

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX provided the following update on the Falcon 9 return to flight this morning:

We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.

You will undoubtedly recall that the second stage of a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded on the launch pad three months ago as it was being fueled for a pre-flight engine test. A Spacecom communications satellite valued at $195 million was destroyed in the accident.

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Inmarsat Looking at Alternatives to Falcon 9

Members of the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team responded to an explosion Sept. 1, 2016, on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Credit: 45th Space Wing)
Members of the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team responded to an explosion Sept. 1, 2016, on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Credit: 45th Space Wing)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Inmarsat could shift one of its satellites to another launch vehicle due to the problems with SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said Thursday the launch of its fourth Global Xpress satellite due this year on a SpaceX rocket would be delayed until next year and that the company may shift a spacecraft due for launch next year to another rocket.

“We are actively looking at alternatives,” Mr. Pearce said in an interview.

The satellite that may be shifted to another rocket is a critical element of Inmarsat’s plan to provide high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi to airline customers flying in Europe. British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA on Wednesday announced it would be the launch customer for the service, which is due to commence next year.

Inmarsat is worried that even after SpaceX resumes launches with the Falcon booster, it may not be able to make up lost time to assure its satellite is placed on orbit as scheduled. Alternatives the London-based company is considering include flying the spacecraft on the European Ariane 5 rocket, Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Atlas V, or the Russian Proton booster. Mr. Pearce said Inmarsat could stick with SpaceX if it can get an earlier launch slot.

Inmarsat Books SpaceX Launches

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

LONDON, July 2, 2014 (Inmarsat PR) – Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite services, today announced that it has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its S-band satellite and up to two further Inmarsat missions. Under the terms of its agreement with SpaceX, Inmarsat expects to use the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, but will retain the possibility of using a Falcon 9 as an alternative, providing further launch flexibility.

Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer said, “We believe that SpaceX has demonstrated tremendous successful progress in its launch capabilities and is now a fully-credible provider of vehicles to support geostationary missions.  We are delighted to be working with SpaceX for the launch of our S-band satellite and other potential future missions for Inmarsat.  In view of capacity constraints in the satellite launch market, Inmarsat believes that securing optionality today is an important business safeguard to mitigate future launch schedule risk.”

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