Inmarsat was set up in 1979 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enable ships to stay in constant touch with shore or to call for help in an emergency, no matter how far out to sea. Today our customers are found in many different sectors – but they are typically businesses and organisations that need to communicate where terrestrial telecom networks are unreliable or simply cannot reach. Today we own and operate a total of 11 spacecraft flying in geostationary orbit 35,786km (22,236 miles) above the Earth. We remain a pioneer and industry leader in space communications with the worldwide launch of Global Xpress in 2015 and the development of our unique S-band aviation network across Europe.
With the launch of Alphasat in July 2013, Inmarsat became the commercial operator of one of the most technically advanced communications satellites ever flown into space. The size of a London double-decker bus and with a total mass of more than 6.6 tonnes at launch, Alphasat is the largest European telecommunications satellite ever built. Alphasat now supplements our ground-breaking Inmarsat-4 (I-4) series, which in 2010 was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious MacRobert Award for innovation after all three I-4s established the world’s first global 3G network. The Inmarsat-4 fleet are expected to support our L-band services without the need for replacement until the early-2020s.
We have launched the world’s first global Ka-band mobile satellite system, delivering high-speed broadband to compact user terminals on land, at sea and in the air, through a single operator. We call this pioneering network Global Xpress. Global Xpress is delivered through our next-generation Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellites, built by US manufacturer Boeing and based on its powerful 702HP platform. The first Global Xpress satellite – I-5 F1 – entered commercial service on 1 July 2014, serving Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The second satellite successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodorome in Kazakhstan on 1 February to deliver regional GX services for the Americas and Atlantic Ocean Region and the third satellite in the constellation (I-5 F3), launched on 28 August 2015 to deliver regional GX services for the Pacific Ocean Region. As part of Inmarsat’s US$1.6 billion programme commitment, a fourth Global Xpress satellite (I-5 F4) is currently completing construction and testing by Boeing in California, and is likely to be launched in the second half of 2016 in order to provide additional GX capacity.
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