Less than three months after the successful launch of the first of its next-generation satellites, Inmarsat has returned to International Launch Services (ILS) to add the Atlas V vehicle as an option for future I-4 launches.
An ILS Atlas V launched the first Inmarsat-4 satellite on March 11 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The satellite, one of the largest and most sophisticated commercial satellites ever launched and 60 times more powerful than its predecessors, began operations last week.
The Atlas V is built by Lockheed Martin, which is a partner in the ILS joint venture.
"We're pleased to have helped Inmarsat lay the foundation for its new broadband service by launching the first I-4 satellite this year," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "We thank Inmarsat for again putting its confidence in ILS and Atlas V."
"The new contract for Atlas V provides flexibility to serve as a backup for the launch of the Inmarsat-4 F2 spacecraft, now nearing completion at EADS Astrium in Toulouse," said Gene Jilg, Inmarsat vice president responsible for the Inmarsat-4 program.
"Backup capability using a different vehicle family from the prime has been a hallmark of Inmarsat's strategy for three satellite generations. Atlas has delivered 100 percent reliability for Inmarsat thus far and we look forward to continued success."
The I-4 constellation will support the introduction of the new BGAN service, delivering internet and intranet access, video-on-demand, videoconferencing, fax, email, phone and LAN access at speeds of up to half a megabit per second.
BGAN will also be compatible with 3G cellular systems. The I-4 satellites are Eurostar E3000 models built by EADS Astrium, weighing nearly 6 metric tons.
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