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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch Inmarsat’s newest satellite

Corporate

Inmarsat ORCHESTRA to grow further with Airbus-made I-6 F2 launching on reusable rocket in Q1 2023, following its twin I-6 F1, which launched in December 2021

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the second in the Inmarsat-6 series of satellites, I-6 F2, from Cape Canaveral, Florida in Q1 2023. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launched the first of the series, I-6 F1, in December 2021 and its fully electric propulsion system is now raising it to a geostationary orbital slot, 36,000km (22,000 miles) over the Indian Ocean. I-6 F1 will enter service in early 2023, following testing later this year, with I-6 F2 scheduled to follow into operation over the Atlantic later in 2023.

I-6 F1 and F2 are identical, with the payloads designed and manufactured in the UK at Airbus’s facilities in Stevenage and Portsmouth, prior to final assembly in Toulouse, France. The most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, they are each almost as large as a London double-decker bus and, when their solar arrays are opened to their full 47m (154 feet) width, they have a ‘wingspan’ similar to a Boeing 767.

The I-6s are Inmarsat’s first dual band satellites, carrying both ELERA (L-band) and Global Xpress (GX – Ka-band) payloads. The Inmarsat 6 series of satellites will play a crucial role in the ongoing growth of the company’s unique ORCHESTRA dynamic mesh network.

This revolutionary layered approach is designed to meet the accelerating bandwidth requirements of more diverse, demanding and ever more widely adopted applications in the commercial and government mobility markets. By drawing on the unique capabilities of each component, it will deliver high performance connectivity everywhere, while eliminating the longstanding industry-wide challenge of congestion at high demand hot spots, like busy ports, airports, sea canals and flight corridors, for good.

ORCHESTRA’s unprecedented combination of global coverage, unparalleled capacity and resilience will provide customers with a low-risk transition to next generation service capabilities, enabling new business models and use cases well into the future. For example:

  • Urban Air Mobility: Complete command and control and secure air traffic management capabilities for the safe operation of autonomous flying taxis and personal air transport.
  • Industrial IoT: Secure, device-neutral, private networks for large scale IoT deployments that can integrate, manage and monitor disparate sensors and devices via a single cloud environment.
  • Smart Cruise Ships: High speed, low latency passenger, crew and operational connectivity solutions for ferries and cruise ships, enabled through global satcom and on-board 5G networks.
  • Tactical Private Networks: Bespoke, high-speed, local area, temporary ‘sovereign’ networks to connect international aid, forces or government agencies in the field while securely relaying critical data home for analysis.

Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat CEO, said: “As our journey towards delivering the world’s first dynamic mesh network, Inmarsat ORCHESTRA, continues at pace, the launch of our I-6 family of satellites is a crucial step. As well as providing additional capacity for our ELERA and Global Xpress services for our customers into the 2030s, these incredibly sophisticated satellites also form an important piece of the puzzle for the exciting future ahead that ORCHESTRA represents. Combining terrestrial 5G with satellites in both low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit into Inmarsat ORCHESTRA, a single network of networks, demonstrates how we are at the leading edge of innovation, ensuring unparalleled capabilities for our customers for the long term.

“SpaceX is a valued launch partner for Inmarsat having successfully launched GX-4 in 2017. Their innovative reusable launch vehicle model supports Inmarsat’s commitment to drive sustainability throughout our supply chain and operations. The use of flight proven boosters and fairing for this launch demonstrate the drive to further sustainability in space operations.”

Details on the precise date for the launch will be provided once confirmed by Inmarsat and SpaceX.

Further information

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat is the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications. It owns and operates the world’s most diverse global portfolio of mobile telecommunications satellite networks, and holds a multi-layered, global spectrum portfolio, covering L-band, Ka-band and S-band, enabling unparalleled breadth and diversity in the solutions it provides. Inmarsat’s long-established global distribution network includes not only the world’s leading channel partners but also its own strong direct retail capabilities, enabling end to end customer service assurance.

The company has an unrivalled track record of operating the world’s most reliable global mobile satellite telecommunications networks, sustaining business and mission critical safety & operational applications for more than 40 years. It is also a major driving force behind technological innovation in mobile satellite communications, sustaining its leadership through a substantial investment and a powerful network of technology and manufacturing partners.

Inmarsat operates across a diversified portfolio of sectors with the financial resources to fund its business strategy and holds leading positions in the Maritime, Government, Aviation and Enterprise satcoms markets, operating consistently as a trusted, responsive and high-quality partner to its customers across the globe.

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Contacts for media enquiries: 

Jonathan Sinnatt/ Matthew Knowles
Corporate Communications
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[email protected]rsat.com            

About Partner2Connect Coalition

The Partner2Connect Digital Coalition is a multistakeholder alliance launched by ITU in close cooperation with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, and in line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the hardest-to-connect communities, with a focus on, but not limited to, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).