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Friday, December 24, 2021 

Inmarsat has launched its first Inmarsat-6 satellite, I-6 F1, forerunner of its constellation of hybrid L- and Ka-band satellites, incorporating increased capacity and new technological advances for ELERA’s transformational L-band services alongside additional Global Xpress (GX) high-speed broadband capacity.

The launch was performed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. Adding to the existing global fleet of 14 geostationary satellites, the seven I-6 satellites will, by 2024, extend Inmarsat’s commitment to mission critical services while enabling a new generation of pioneering technologies.

I-6 F1 is comparable in size to a London double-decker bus, with a deployed solar arrays ‘wingspan’ similar to a Boeing 767 and a 9m wide L-band reflector. The satellite will be raised to geostationary orbit (GEO) about 36,000km above the Earth via its all-electric propulsion system and then undergo a thorough and extensive testing programme. I-6 F1 will enter service in 2023. Ground stations in Western Australia will support I-6 F1.

Rajeev Suri, CEO Inmarsat, said: “This launch marks Inmarsat’s newest technological leap forward as we maintain our strong commercial momentum and sector leadership. It gives me great pleasure and pride to confirm the successful launch of I-6 F1. This satellite extends our world leading mobile satellite communications services for our customers and partners, especially in the Indo Pacific region. My warmest thanks and congratulations go to the Inmarsat team that delivered flawlessly on this project as well as our launch provider Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and our satellite manufacturing partner Airbus Defence and Space.”

The I-6 satellites are said to demonstrate Inmarsat’s ongoing investment and commitment to its global leadership in L-band satellite services to 2040 and beyond. They deliver an enhanced platform for those looking to embrace the next wave of ELERA technologies, including the growing Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) satellite connectivity market segment, by providing increased network capacity and resilience.

These new capabilities from the I-6s mean greater capacity and coverage, greater speeds and a greater portfolio of connectivity solutions for ELERA and Global Xpress (GX) networks. The I-6 satellites, like all Inmarsat ELERA and GX spacecraft, are backward-compatible with existing terminals, ensuring that current and future customers will continue to benefit from new advances.

The I-6s substantially increase the effective capacity of the network available to ELERA customers with double the beams, 50% more spectrum per beam and double the power of the I-4s, matching customer demand as and where it is needed. I-6 plays an integral role in the reliable GEO infrastructure that underpins Inmarsat Orchestra - the first network that will combine GEO, high elliptical orbit (HEO), low Earth orbit (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into one harmonised solution.

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