Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has signed a contract with International Launch Services (ILS) that provides for a launch of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite in March-April 2008 on a Proton launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Inmarsat’s option to launch the satellite on an Atlas launch vehicle in 2009 from Cape Canaveral, USA, remains in place and will now be regarded as a backup capability.
The Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites are among the largest and most sophisticated commercial communication satellites ever built, and are capable of delivering advanced voice and broadband data communications to mobile users.
Three I-4 satellites were built for Inmarsat by EADS Astrium. The I-4 F1 was launched in March 2005, and has an orbital slot over the Indian Ocean at 64 degrees East; while the I-4 F2 was launched in November 2005, and provides coverage for the Americas from an orbital slot at 154 degrees West.
The I-4 F3 was a ground spare for the two launches in 2005, but its launch and orbital position will complete the I-4 constellation and support the global delivery of Inmarsat’s latest services.
Andrew Sukawaty, CEO and Chairman of Inmarsat, said: “Our agreement with ILS has enabled us to accelerate our launch plans for the I-4 F3. The third satellite will provide global coverage for our existing BGAN service and will benefit our new broadband maritime and aeronautical services as well as our global satellite phone service. This will provide incremental opportunities for growth in our maritime and aeronautical markets.”