February 1 saw the second Boeing-built Inmarsat-5 satellite send its first signals from orbit, which marks a major step toward establishing Inmarsat’s US$1.6bn Global Xpress network, a global, high-speed mobile broadband service which will enable services that include in-flight connectivity for airline passengers; worldwide mobile broadband communications for ships; and high-resolution video, voice and data streaming.
Launched on an International Launch Services Proton Breeze M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 1 at 7:31 am EST, controllers confirmed the satellite was operating normally approximately 15 and a half hours later.
Over the coming weeks, the Inmarsat operations team will command the satellite to perform a series of manoeuvres to raise Inmarsat-5 F2 to a geo-synchronous elliptical orbit, while towards the end of the month, the satellite will have completed deployment of its solar arrays and reflectors. This will be followed by the electrical orbit-raising phase, taking the spacecraft to its final geostationary orbit. This is scheduled to be completed by the end of March, ready for the start of payload testing at the beginning of April.
A third Inmarsat-5 satellite is scheduled for launch in the first half of this year, completing the Global Xpress constellation. A fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite, scheduled for delivery in 2016, is in production in El Segundo, California.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said, “The successful launch of our second Inmarsat-5 satellite by Proton is a significant step forward on our journey to deliver the world’s first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service. Our first GX satellite entered commercial service in July 2014 and has since been delivering an excellent service to our customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. With Inmarsat-5 F3 expected for launch by Proton in the coming months, we are on schedule to achieve full global coverage early in the second half of 2015.
Inmarsat also has contracted Boeing Commercial Satellite Services to provide L- and Ka-band payload capacity and managed services to potential government customers.