Inmarsat is a Britain-based satellite telecommunications company that was purchased by American company Viasat in 2021. Inmarsat offers mobile telephone and data services to customers globally via portable user terminals that receive signal from ground stations that communicate with 14 geostationary satellites. In December 2021, the company launched the newest satellite on its ORCHESTRA constellation called Inmarsat-6 ‘I-6 F1.’ It is an advanced electrically-powered communications satellite that is actively raising to a geostationary orbital slot at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) over the Indian Ocean. Once it reaches its designated orbit, I-6 F1 will undergo testing this year to begin providing service in early 2023.
Inmarsat announced it selected SpaceX to launch the second satellite in the series, identified as ‘I-6 F2.’ A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket will launch the I-6 F2 fully-electric communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida, during the first quarter of 2023 [date pending]. It will operate in geostationary orbit over the Atlantic Ocean. “As our journey towards delivering the world’s first dynamic mesh network, Inmarsat ORCHESTRA, continues at pace, the launch of our I-6 family of satellites is a crucial step. […]” said Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri. “SpaceX is a valued launch partner for Inmarsat having successfully launched GX-4 in 2017. Their innovative reusable launch vehicle model supports Inmarsat’s commitment to drive sustainability throughout our supply chain and operations. The use of flight proven boosters and fairing for this launch demonstrate the drive to further sustainability in space operations,” they stated in a press release.
“I-6 F1 and F2 [satellites] are identical, with the payloads designed and manufactured in the UK at Airbus’s facilities in Stevenage and Portsmouth, prior to final assembly in Toulouse, France,” the company said. “The most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, they are each almost as large as a London double-decker bus and, when their solar arrays are opened to their full 47m (154 feet) width, they have a ‘wingspan’ similar to a Boeing 767.”
Featured Image Source: Inmarsat