Advanced Television

Inmarsat orders 3 new satellites

May 22, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Despite being just days away from receiving the final approval for its planned merger with Viasat, London-based Inmarsat has ordered up three new satellites.

The new craft measure just 1.5 cubic metres (plus the solar arrays) and are about one-fifth of the size and weight of conventional geostationary satellites. They will form Inmarsat’s I-8 fleet.

These models come from Switzerland’s ‘Swissto12’ manufacturer and are their ‘Hummingsat’ versions.

Launches will take place by 2026 and provide back-up and in-orbit reliance for Inmarsat’s existing fleet and in particular the operator’s two I-6 generation craft launched in December 2021 and February 2023.

The trio will help power Inmarsat’s L-band network. Each I-8 will also extend Inmarsat’s history of launching and operating radionavigation transponders for Governments and international space agencies. These transponders can enable Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) services around the world, for example for air traffic controllers or coastguards. SBAS systems uses satellite connectivity, land-based infrastructure, and software to enhance standard GPS/Galileo accuracy of five to 10 metres to as little as just 10cm.

The I-8 satellites will continue to secure Inmarsat’s global safety services into the 2040’s. The company was founded in 1979 under the auspices of the United Nations specifically to provide highly reliable safety communications. Today some 1.6 million seafarers and over 200 airlines rely on Inmarsat’s global L-band network to deliver 99.9 per cent availability every day.

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