The first sixth-generation Inmarsat satellite is scheduled for launch before the end of 2021
Inmarsat is preparing to launch its sixth-generation constellation of geostationary satellites this year as it expands the Global Xpress (GX) network and brings in new L-band capabilities. The UK-based satellite owner plans to commission two Inmarsat-6 satellites to significantly enhance Ka-band (GX) and L-band (Fleetbroadband) capacities.
The first of these Airbus Defence & Space-built satellites (GX6A) is due to be launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries later in 2021. GX6B is scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in 2022. These will be the most powerful and flexible mobile communications satellites ever developed by Inmarsat.
Their delivery follows the successful introduction of commercial services through the GX5 satellite on 10 December 2020. GX5 was built by ThalesAleniaSpace to provide coverage over Europe and the Middle East.
Inmarsat’s GX network includes four other geostationary satellites built by Boeing. The company celebrated five years of Ka-band connectivity in January 2021.
Its satellite investments will not stop with the Inmarsat-6 units. Inmarsat will subcontract the manufacture, launch and commissioning of three more GX satellites and GX payloads on two third-party satellites.
Inmarsat plans to launch two satellites operated by Space Norway Heosat with GX payloads in 2022. GX10A and 10B will be placed into highly elliptical orbits ensuring continuous coverage above latitude 65° North for shipping.
The Northrop-built payloads will expand Inmarsat’s broadband into the Arctic, enhancing connectivity along the northern ocean routes. Inmarsat says this multi-beam and high-throughput capacity will integrate seamlessly into the existing and planned GX network.
In 2023, Inmarsat plans to launch three more Airbus Defence & Space-built satellites - GX7, GX8 and GX9 - its first software-defined constellation for global mobile connectivity.
Each satellite will deliver double the capacity of the entire current, in-service GX network (GX1-5). They will simultaneously generate thousands of independent spot beams of different sizes, bandwidths and power that can be reconfigured and repositioned across the globe.
With these satellites, Inmarsat can respond to peaks in customer demand instantaneously and with pinpoint accuracy to provide overlapped capacity over regional hot spots.
To support these capabilities, Inmarsat is enhancing the GX ground network to fully integrate each generation of GX satellites for commercial service, starting in 2024.
New GX technology will be backwards compatible with existing terminals, meaning vessel owners can benefit from future service enhancements without replacing hardware.
Inmarsat passed the milestone of 10,000 ships using its Ka-band based Fleet Xpress on 21 January 2021.
Telenor Satellite provides Ka-band VSAT services from its Thor 7 satellite in 1° West orbital location, providing coverage over the North Sea, North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea, Black Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean since 2016.
This is part of Telenor’s Anker Ka-band package delivered by its partners in maritime and offshore markets.
Telenor Satellite says Anker is versatile and accessible for all types of vessels with reliable and guaranteed service over the coverage regions. Anker can accommodate seasonal flexibility and fluctuations in demand and meet short-term service requirements.
In 2019, Telenor Satellite expanded its offering of high-throughput services through a new partnership with Newtec. This covers beams 2 and 3 over the Norwegian Sea for ferries, cruise ships and offshore support vessels. Anker Ka uses the Newtec Dialog platform to offer services up to 150 Mbps on the downlink and 50 Mbps on the uplink.
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