Airbus to build two L/Ka-band satellites for Inmarsat

Inmarsat satellite coverage map.
Inmarsat satellite coverage map.

Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract by Inmarsat to design and develop the first two Inmarsat-6 (I-6) mobile communications satellites in a contract valued in the region of $600M (€550M)

I-6 F1 and F2 will carry a large 9m aperture L-band antenna and nine multi-beam Ka-band antennas, plus feature a high level of flexibility and connectivity.

A new generation modular digital processor will provide full routing flexibility over up to 8000 channels and be dynamically steerable over the full Earth disk, with flexible channel to beam allocation.

The first satellite (I-6 F1) is scheduled for launch in 2020 and its electric propulsion system will enable it to reach geostationary orbit in four to six months, depending on the type of launcher used. It has been designed to remain in service in orbit for more than 15 years.

The two I-6 satellites will be based on Airbus Defence and Space’s Eurostar platform in its E3000e variant, which exclusively uses electric propulsion for orbit raising.

The satellites will take advantage of the reduction in mass that the electric propulsion technology enables for a dual payload mission, with a large next-generation digitally processed payload.

François Auque, Airbus Aerospace and Defence Head of Space Systems, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Inmarsat to build their latest and most sophisticated satellites.

“This mission for our next-generation digitally-processed payload represents a step change in capability and capacity.

“The spacecraft will complement and enhance the L-band services offered by the Airbus Defence and Space-built Inmarsat-4 and Alphasat satellites, and embark a Ka-band mission to augment Inmarsat’s globally available high-speed broadband service – Global Xpress.”

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, added: “The Inmarsat-6 constellation confirms our continued commitment to delivering advanced L-band services for decades to come.

“The new satellites will provide significantly greater L-band capacity and will be capable of supporting a new generation of more advanced L-band services.”

“The Ka-band co-payload adds depth to the breadth of the unique capabilities of our Global Xpress (GX) constellation, which now spans the world.”

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