infoTECH Feature

July 31, 2013

Inmarsat's I-4A F4 Alphasat Satellite Launched Successfully

Inmarsat’s (News - Alert) I-4A F4 Alphasat satellite was launched successfully on July 25, onboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the European Spaceport in French Guiana.

Alphasat is one of the advanced telecommunications satellites designed for civilian applications. Supported by Inmarsat with more than $350 million invested, it now joins the company’s Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellite fleet.

The Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellite fleet has been empowering global broadband connectivity for government and commercial customers in the L-band for more than three years.

According to Inmarsat, the company’s Alphasat Mission Operations team completed the partial solar array deployment and orbit-raising on July 26, to place the satellite into its final geostationary orbital position. The complete operation will be completed by the end of this month.

Alphasat is one of Europe’s largest private-public partnerships for a space project. The European Space Agency (ESA) initiative collaborated with Inmarsat to create new services and jobs.

Designed and manufactured by Astrium, Alphasat was born out of a European Space Agency (ESA) initiative to build a new spacecraft platform capable of carrying an advanced communications payload.

According to sources, Alphasat's communications payload was designed and built at Astrium's U.K. plants in Stevenage and Portsmouth, with important contributions from Astrium in France and Germany.

Rupert Pearce, chief executive officer of Inmarsat, said in a statement, “Alphasat will strengthen our existing I-4 satellite constellation, providing coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

Pearce added, “The launch demonstrates Inmarsat’s long-term commitment to L-band services, and marks a significant milestone in the evolution of our flagship satellite fleet, bringing new capabilities both in terms of performance and resource availability.”

Currently, four technology demonstration payloads (TDPs) – provided by ESA -- are on board flight Alphasat. These are an advanced laser communication terminal; a Q-V band communications experiment to assess the feasibility of required bands for future commercial applications; an advanced star tracker with active pixel detector; and an environment-effects facility to monitor the GEO radiation environment and its effects on electronic components and sensors.

Inmarsat is now able to deliver the new broadband global area network (BGAN) family of services. These BGAN services provide a wide range of high data rate applications to a new line of user terminals for aeronautical, land and maritime markets.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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