August 28th saw a Russian-built Proton rocket launch a British satellite into orbit for Inmarsat. The successful 15-hour launch also represented the return to work for International Launch Services (ILS) and its Proton+BrizM combination after a 4-month delay following the catastrophic loss on May 16th of a Mexican satellite, and a few worrying problems ahead of that loss for the rocket system.
Even more troubling was the delay, and the impact of a complete shut-down of the launcher had on the world’s satellite operators, many of which had pre-booked ‘flights’ onto Proton.
For Inmarsat all is now well, and they have in place their third ‘Global Express’ satellite (Inmarsat-5 F3). Inmarsat says it will start operating a full global service towards the end of this year once in-orbit testing is completed.
One of its key customers is going to be airlines, with a number looking to boost connectivity ‘direct-to-seat’ and supplying in-light entertainment, including video, to passengers.
The upcoming launch roster for Proton includes Turksat 4B, Eutelsat 9B, Intelsat -1, Echostar-21 and AsiaSat-9.