Advanced Television

Inmarsat-6 a complete loss?

September 14, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Inmarsat’s latest satellite, its I6-F2 craft, has not been manoeuvred since its power failure anomaly was reported. Inmarsat, now owned by Viasat, has not made any announcement but the fear is that the craft will be declared a total loss.

Ground observations state that I6-F2’s orbit has changed only very slightly and those likely due to gravitational perturbations.

Viasat last issued a statement on the satellite on August 24th. The satellite, built by Airbus, was launched back in February and the problem was described as “unprecedented”. The actual problem is with an antenna on the satellite.

Viasat stressed that its comprehensive fleet mean that no clients would suffer as a result of the problem.

“The manufacturing and launch costs of the I6 F2 satellite were insured and near-term cash positions are expected to improve. The twin Inmarat-6 F1 satellite (I6 F1), which was launched in December 2021, is operational and continues to perform as expected,” said Viasat.

“The fact that we can communicate through it is hopeful,” continued Viasat, but added that more data is needed to decide its next step.

A total loss would then mean an insurance claim of some $400 million (launch costs included). It could be that an insurance pay-out would in fact allow Viasat other options, not least permitting a change of plan and a shift away from geostationary capacity to more flexible low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. Inmarsat is developing a fleet of LEO satellites (called Orchestra).

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