In preparation for its launch in February, the second Inmarsat-6 geostationary communications satellite (I-6 F2) made by Airbus has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida onboard an Airbus Beluga.
The second satellite of the Inmarsat-6 series will be based on the ultra-reliable Eurostar E3000 spacecraft and will be Airbus’ 58th Eurostar E3000. It will be the seventh Eurostar in orbit with electric propulsion for orbit lifting, strengthening Airbus’ position as the global leader in electric propulsion.
Francois Gaullier, Head of Telecommunications and Navigation Systems for Airbus, stated that the I-6 F2, which will provide Inmarsat with even more flexibility, capability, and capacity, will join the Inmarsat-6 F1 (I-6 F1) satellite in orbit. The payload of the I-6 F2 is highly sophisticated and will be digitally processed. This is the tenth geo-telecommunications satellite the company has built for its long-term customer Inmarsat, a leading global mobile satellite communication service provider. According to him, the I-6 F1 satellites will enable a step shift in the capabilities and capacity of their ELERA services and give a large extra capacity to their Global Xpress network. These satellites will also be able to supply these capabilities.
I-6 F1 and I-6 F2 are equipped with a wide 9m aperture L-band antenna and six multi-beam Ka-band antennas, allowing for high adaptability and communication. Additionally, each spacecraft is outfitted with a new generation of modular digital processors. These processors provide full routing flexibility across up to 8000 channels and dynamic power allocation to more than 200 spot beams operating in the L-band. The Ka-band spot beams can be steered over the whole surface of the Earth with a variable channel to beam allocation.
Because of these satellites, Inmarsat will be able to further improve its already industry-leading ELERA (L-band) and Global Xpress (Ka-band) networks, which serve customers on the land, sea, and in the air. They are also the next phase in the company’s plans for Inmarsat ORCHESTRA, the world’s first multidimensional network. The network of networks will leverage Inmarsat’s existing space-based capabilities to give clients a transformative increase in capacity and additional features well beyond the year 2030.
The European Space Agency and state agencies, particularly the CNES, France’s National Centre for Space Studies and the UK Space Agency, support
Airbus’ investments in platform and payload technologies utilised on I-6. I-6 F2 has a design life of more than 15 years, a spacecraft power of 21 kilowatts, and a launch mass of 5.5 tonnes.
In December 2021, the first Inmarsat-6 (I-6 F1) satellite manufactured by Airbus was successfully launched. It is slated to enter operation in early 2023 after reaching its geostationary testing site in the summer of 2022. After the successful launch of the I-6 F2, the I-6 F2 will enter service in early 2024.
More than 1300 years of successful operation have been logged by Airbus’ geostationary communications satellites, which are now in service or being constructed for all of the world’s main geostationary satellite operators.