Inmarsat GX I-5 launch date now set for 28 August

An Inmarsat I-5 satellite for its Ka-band GX Aviation service.
An Inmarsat I-5 satellite for its Ka-band GX Aviation service.

Update: The launch of the Proton is now set for 28 August 2015 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Lift-off will be at 17:44 local time (12:44 BST).

Inmarsat says that its third I-5 satellite launch has been rescheduled for late August 2015. The satellite is the third crucial element for worldwide coverage of its Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band inflight connectivity system.

With the third piece of its jigsaw in place Inmarsat will be well on the way to offering airlines the 30-50Mbps service, with commercial entry to service at the year end.

Speaking as the company released its interim results, Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The return to flight of the Proton launch vehicle after a three-month suspension is welcome news.

A successful launch of I-5 F3 in late August will enable us to introduce global GX commercial services by the end of this year, providing a major catalyst for a step-change in revenue and EBITDA growth in 2016.

We remain confident that GX will deliver incremental run-rate revenues of at least $500m per annum within five years from the launch of global services.”

The launch of I-5 F3 had been delayed after the loss of a Russian Proton launcher back in May 2015. The Proton-M failed after its third-stage booster accidentally switched off at a height of 161km (100 miles).

The Proton was carrying a Mexican satellite into orbit before it malfunctioned and burnt up over Siberia.

This hit Inmarsat’s share price quite badly at the time. It bounced back this morning on the Proton news, rising 60p (6.69%) at the market close as analysts reflected on the good news.

Pearce added: “Development of our aircraft cabin connectivity opportunities, both in Europe with our European aviation network, and globally with GX, is moving forward rapidly, and we are close to finalising several major airline contracts, as well as development agreements for rolling out the S-band satellite and complementary ground networks in Europe and delivering the cabin connectivity service.”

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