Inmarsat has entered into an agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) to be the first commercial customer to place an order for the new H3 launch vehicle.
The maiden flight of H3 is scheduled for 2020 with Inmarsat planning to deploy the new launch vehicle after 2022.
This is the second agreement entered by Inmarsat and MHI, following the launch services contract awarded to MHI’s H-IIA Launch Vehicle in 2017. These agreements underline the growing partnership between the two companies in the area of launch services.
Inmarsat announced in September 2017 that MHI had been selected as the launch provider for the first satellite in the Inmarsat-6 fleet (Inmarsat-6 F1).
The satellite, which is under construction by Airbus Defence and Space, is scheduled for launch in 2020 using MHI’s H-IIA launch vehicle.
Inmarsat’s sixth-generation (I-6) fleet will be the first to feature dual-payload satellites; each supporting L-band and Ka-band (Global Xpress) services.
The I-6 satellites represent a step change in the capacity of Inmarsat’s L-band services and will support a new generation of L-band capabilities, from advanced global safety services and very low-cost mobile services, to Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
The Ka-band payload will add further depth to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) constellation, which began offering high-throughput broadband services worldwide in 2015.
Through the I-6’s Ka-band payload, Inmarsat will augment its global coverage with greater depth of capacity in regions of greatest demand.
After this deal Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “Inmarsat is the world leader in global mobile satellite communications; a position we have achieved by building an exceptional ecosystem of partners.
“As our company grows – expanding into new markets and opening up new opportunities for our customers to develop their businesses – we continually seek new technology partners that display an outstanding commitment to innovation and excellence.
“It was for these reasons that in 2017 we selected MHI as a launch partner and why today we are delighted to be announcing that Inmarsat is the first commercial customer to select MHI’s new H3 launch vehicle.
“We believe that H3 represents a world-class innovation and one that will deliver an effective and efficient service to place future Inmarsat satellites into orbit.”
“Today, development of the H3 Launch Vehicle is proceeding steadily forward under the leadership of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), with MHI serving as primary contractor working closely with key component manufacturers,” said Masahiro Atsumi, Vice President & Senior General Manager for Space Systems at MHI.
“We greatly appreciate the high evaluation made by Inmarsat during this development phase and, working closely with JAXA and government agencies, we will do everything possible to ensure that development results in a new flagship launch vehicle fully meeting the customer’s high expectations.”
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business said: “Science and innovation have no borders, as long-term strategic partnerships like this one built on excellence between Inmarsat in the UK and MHI in Japan demonstrate.
“The space sector is a UK success story and an industry that is growing globally, a year since the launch of our modern industrial strategy, we continue to build on our commitment to space, including through the announcement of the UK’s first spaceports and record investment in our world leading science base.”
MHI Launch Services says it enjoys an extremely high success rate of 97.9% and has provided 41 successful consecutive launches since 2005, delivered on-time and to the customer’s satisfaction by current launch vehicle both H-IIA and H-IIB.
The agreement with Inmarsat reflects MHI’s long-term commitment to supporting a wide range of customers in the space industry.
MHI will continue to support the development of the space industry and will seek further new opportunities in this field both in Japan and globally.