SpaceX wins Inmarsat launch deal
July 3, 2014
By Colin Mann
Global mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its S-band satellite and up to two further Inmarsat missions. Under the terms of its agreement with SpaceX, Inmarsat expects to use the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, but will retain the possibility of using a Falcon 9 as an alternative, providing further launch flexibility.
Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer said the company believed that SpaceX had demonstrated tremendous successful progress in its launch capabilities and was now a fully-credible provider of vehicles to support geostationary missions. “We are delighted to be working with SpaceX for the launch of our S-band satellite and other potential future missions for Inmarsat. In view of capacity constraints in the satellite launch market, Inmarsat believes that securing optionality today is an important business safeguard to mitigate future launch schedule risk.”
In June 2014, Inmarsat announced plans to deploy a wholly-owned S-band payload on a satellite jointly owned and funded by Hellas-Sat. In connection with the agreement announced today, Hellas-Sat will jointly and equally fund the cost of the SpaceX launch vehicle. The cost to Inmarsat of the launch vehicle is captured within the previously announced figure of approximately $200 million for the total deployment programme (including build, launch, insurance and operations).
“As a leading provider in the global satellite communications space for more than 30 years, SpaceX appreciates Inmarsat’s confidence in the Falcon family of vehicles,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO. “SpaceX is proud to partner with Inmarsat on these missions and we look forward to delivering their satellites to orbit.”
In October 2013, Inmarsat announced the purchase of a fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite from Boeing as a spare satellite. In order to ensure launch availability for mid-2016, in line with the fourth satellite delivery schedule, Inmarsat has secured a SpaceX launch vehicle. This will provide certainty as to launch date and cost when a decision is made to launch the fourth Inmarsat-5, either as a replacement satellite or as a fourth satellite with an incremental Ka-band business case.
Finally, Inmarsat and SpaceX have agreed terms for a third launch vehicle opportunity that can be used for other future missions, including potentially for the launch of an Inmarsat-6 generation satellite. The Inmarsat-6 satellites have not yet been designed or ordered and a first launch is targeted only towards the end of the decade.
In relation to the SpaceX launch options, Inmarsat will make some limited payments before the end of the year which will be captured within updated capital expenditure guidance to be provided with the second quarter results in August.