London-based satellite operator Inmarsat has ordered a 5th Global Xpress satellite. The surprise is that Inmarsat has switched supplier, from Boeing which built the original quartet to a new vendor, Thales Alenia Space of France.
Intelsat has only just launched its 4th craft, on May 15th, and has yet to designate which part of the globe it will cover. However, the operator says that Global Xpress 5 will serve over the Middle East, Europe and India.
Launch for Global Xpress 5 is 2019, and Inmarsat says the order: “reflects Inmarsat’s strategy of adding capacity to its already established, unique, high-speed global broadband network in areas of high customer demand and against new customer commitments.”
At the same time Inmarsat says it has agreed a contract with Qatar Airways to equip more than 130 of its aircraft fleet with inflight equipment for in-flight broadband.
Thales Alenia Space has just finished building Inmarsat’s S-band satellite (which is a so-called ‘condominium’ satellite with HellasSat sharing the platform) and due for launch on June 28th aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.