London-headquartered satellite communications provider Inmarsat has launched the first of its Global Xpress (GX) family of satellites promising to kick off the revolution in Internet connectivity aboard aircraft. It will offer a combination of global coverage from a single operator, and performance of up to 50 Mbps. Global Xpress is based on Ka-band technology.
The 6-tonne spacecraft, manufactured for Inmarsat by Boeing as part of a nearly £1bn investment into the next generation of mobile broadband communications, blasted off aboard the Russian Proton Breeze M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan 12 minutes after noon on Sunday 8 December.
“Global Xpress is the result of three years of planning and, together with a fourth GX satellite we ordered recently from Boeing, represents an investment of $1.6 billion in our next generation of high bandwidth, high capacity, mobile broadband communications satellites,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat.
The satellites feature 89 Ka-band beams and are designed to generate approximately 15 kilowatts of power, which is enabled by using five panels of ultra-triple-junction solar cells.
The Inmarsat-5 F1 satellite will be followed by further three spacecraft, two of them scheduled for launch by the end of 2014.