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Inmarsat-6 F2 marks 12th SpaceX launch of 2023
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Inmarsat-6 F2 marks 12th SpaceX launch of 2023
by Charles Briggs
Space Coast FL (SPX) Feb 19, 2023

SpaceX completed a launch doubleheader Friday night, February 17. When an Airbus-built communications satellite soared into orbit at 10:59 p.m. EST (0359 GMT on February 18) Friday from Cape Canaveral atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, to place the satellites in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the Earth to provide connectivity for ships and aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean region.

Inmarsat-6 F2 is the second in the London-based satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat's I-6 fleet. The 12,000-pound (5,500-kilogram) satellite is based on the Airbus Eurostar E3000 spacecraft. It will add further capabilities to Inmarsat's ORCHESTRA communications network, the world's first multidimensional network.

The satellite is identical to Inmarsat-6 F1, which was launched by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket in December 2021 toward a geostationary orbit above the Indian Ocean and is scheduled to operate in early 2023.

I-6 F2 is a dual-band satellite that has a hybrid 9m aperture L-band antenna and six multi-beam Ka-band antennas. Once it reaches its GEO testing site, the I-6 F2 will enter service in 2024 to provide mobile connectivity services to maritime, aviation, and government customers through 2040.

Inmarsat's CEO, Rajeev Suri, said, "The I-6 journey began six years ago, with our experts sketching out an ambitious concept of two hybrid satellites that would add significant additional capacity and capabilities for our two worldwide constellations - the high-speed broadband Global Xpress network and our narrow-band ELERA.

"This launch is only the start of the largest investment programme in our history, all contributing towards the development of our ORCHESTRA vision. The I-6 spacecraft will be joined by a further five major scale satellites by 2025. Each of these has the capability to deliver focused connectivity over a larger region and come with certainty - in resilience, in robustness, in service quality - that is unique to Inmarsat."

The booster supporting the Inmarsat mission is B1077, which has previously flown twice. Following the stage separation, the booster will land on SpaceX's autonomous drone ship, Just Read The Instructions (JRTI), parked in the Atlantic Ocean about 410 miles (665 kilometers) east off the coast of Cape Canaveral.

This launch marks the 12th mission of the year for SpaceX and the second launch of the day. Less than 9 hours after launching another Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California with a batch of Starlink internet satellites.

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