Inmarsat’s first Global Xpress satellite has travelled from California to its launch site in Kazakhstan. The 6,100kg spacecraft – designated Inmarsat-5 F1–departed from Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday 9 November 2013 aboard an Antonov AN-124 heavy transporter and arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Monday 11 November 2013.
The spacecraft was constructed at Boeing’s El Segundo facility in California and is the first of three Global Xpress Ka-band satellites scheduled to be launched on behalf of Inmarsat by ILS (International Launch Services). Inmarsat-5 F1 is scheduled to be available to support a launch in December from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, located approximately 2,100 km (1,300 miles) south east of Moscow, by a Proton Breeze M launch vehicle.
A fourth satellite has recently been ordered from Boeing. Based on Ka-band technology, each satellite will have a combination of fixed narrow spot beams that will enable Inmarsat to deliver higher speeds through more compact terminals; and steerable beams, so additional capacity can be directed in real-time to where it's needed.
“This is an exciting day for Inmarsat and all our partners,” said Michele Franci, Vice President, GX Commercial. “Global Xpress is the result of three years of planning. To see the first of our satellites leave California for Kazakhstan highlights that Global Xpress will soon be a reality. For end users on land, at sea and in the air, Global Xpress will mark a step change in their ability to access high speed broadband services, regardless of where they happen to be.”
Inmarsat’s next generation Global Xpress service will be the world’s first globally available high-speed broadband network. The Global Xpress fleet is on course to meet its scheduled completion and is currently expected to achieve full global coverage by the end of 2014.
It will offer a unique combination of global coverage from a single operator, consistent higher performance of up to 50Mbps, and the network reliability for which Inmarsat is renowned, the company said.