Inmarsat has confirmed that its I-5 F2 Global Xpress (GX) satellite is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12.31pm (GMT) on Sunday 1st February.
The launch is being undertaken for Inmarsat by International Launch Services (ILS) using a Proton launch vehicle.
This will be the second satellite in the three-ship constellation, due to deliver a global ultra-fast Ka-band 40Mbps service to commercial aircraft and up to 33Mbps to business jets.
The first Global Xpress satellite – Inmarsat-5 F1 – was launched in December 2013 and entered regional commercial service in July 2014, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Inmarsat-5 F2, now scheduled for launch on 1st February, will provide broadband services to the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the launch of the third Global Xpress satellite – Inmarsat-5 F3 – which is scheduled for early Q2 2015, Inmarsat is planning to commence global commercial GX services in “the second half of 2015”.
Leo Mondale, Inmarsat’s President Aviation, was confident of meeting that target when “Get Connected” interviewed him at the Apex Expo in September 2014.
The GX programme had been delayed due to the failure of a Proton rocket back in May 2014. Inmarsat warned then that the launch dates of the two remaining Ka-band GX satellites was likely to be put back.
OnAir announced last week that Qatar Airways plans to fit the equipment needed for GX to its Airbus A350s, with service launch being in 2016.
Vietnam Airlines was revealed as the “launch customer” for GX in September 2014. Gogo said then that it had received a bid award letter from Vietnam Airlines to provide in-flight connectivity services on Vietnam Airlines’ fleet of Boeing 787 aircraft and a majority of the airline’s Airbus A350 aircraft.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “Global Xpress is a truly transformational technology and, as we complete its global roll-out, 2015 promises to be one of the most significant chapters in our company’s history.
“Through Global Xpress, the world can move forward from the ‘Internet of Everything’ to the ‘Internet of Everywhere’, in which high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity is available anywhere and at any time – even in the most inaccessible regions – for customers on the move or to fixed locations.
“We believe that our new global network will power innovation, support economic development and help transform social services, from education to healthcare, in regions not adequately served – or not served at all – by terrestrial networks.”
Each of the three satellites in the initial GX fleet has 89 beams and six steerable high-power spot beams for multi-regional coverage.
The GX satellite weighs 6,100kg at launch with a wing-span wider than a Boeing 737. All three have a design life of 15 years.