The first of a fleet of Inmarsat's satellites to revolutionise aircraft connectivity has completed final testing

Satellite revolutionising aircraft connectivity tested by Boeing

The first of three satellites manufactured by Boeing for the telecoms company Inmarsat has undergone final system testing.

The Inmarsat-5 F1, the first spacecraft of the Global Express (GX) constellation developed by Boeing, will provide Ka-band services for the aviation industry, thus enabling consistent high-speed connectivity for travelling aircraft all around the globe.

“The GX Aviation programme is firmly on track within our current schedule of being available from early 2015,” said Miranda Mills, Inmarsat’s President for Aviation. “Under the expert control of the Boeing teams, the satellites are being manufactured and tested to the highest standards. The first launch is on schedule for late this year with full global coverage on course to be achieved by the end of 2014,” she said.

Set to launch on the troubled ILS Proton Breeze M launch rocket that crashed in July in a ball of fire destroying all three Russian navigation satellites aboard, the 6,100Kg Inmarsat-5F1 spacecraft will be delivered to geostationary transfer orbit where it will deploy its solar arrays, with a span similar to that of a Boeing 737.

It will then be positioned into the geostationary orbit above the Indian Ocean some 23,000 miles from the Earth.

The second satellite (Inmarsat-5 F2) is coming to the end of its assembly process at the Boeing plant, before it begins a series of tests that simulate the extreme temperatures it will experience in space.This will ensure that the heat transfer technology functions properly, enabling the electronics inside the satellite to operate at room temperature, despite a difference of around 300°C between the front of the satellite facing the Sun and the shaded back side.

The London-based telecoms provider Inmarsat has purchased four GX satellites, with the last announced in September this year. The whole constellation should be up and running by mid-2016.

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