A telecommunications satellite to provide in-flight internet for aircraft has been successfully delivered to space in the first successful launch of a Russian rocket since an explosion in May.
The Russian Proton rocket with the Global Xpress (GX) satellite of UK-based telecommunications provider Inmarsat, lifted off from Russia’s cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan at 12.44pm BST on Friday.
Inmarsat confirmed on Twitter that all stages of the rocket have successfully separated and the Breeze-M upper stage, which has caused several satellite losses in the past years, has performed its first burn as planned.
However, the mission will only be declared a success after the separation of the satellite from Breeze-M, which is expected to take place 15 hours and 31 minutes after lift-off.
The Friday launch was the first time Proton returned to flight after the May 18 failure which destroyed Mexican telecommunications satellite MexSat1. Investigators blamed that incident on faulty design of a connection holding a steering engine turbopump on the rocket’s third stage.
The GX satellite launched today is the third in the new family of satellites procured by Inmarsat from Boeing. Dubbed Inmarsat-5 F3, the satellite will be positioned in the geosynchronous orbit at 35,786km above the Earth to provide coverage above the Pacific Ocean region.
Together with its two siblings – Inmarsat-5 F1 and Inmarsat-5 F2, both already in orbit – the satellite will create the world’s first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service, delivered through a single provider.
Global Xpress will deliver broadband speeds around 100 times faster than the company’s fourth generation (I-4) constellation. It will offer multiple new services to enhance connectivity and access to bandwidth even in some of the most remote regions of the world.
“The completion of the Global Xpress constellation will be a significant milestone for our organisation and is fundamental to the delivery of a new era in mobile satellite communications which will change the future for us all,” said Inmarsat’s CEO Rupert Pearce. “We are particularly pleased that GX will support vital programmes enabling governments to meet the rapidly changing requirements of our world, including the transformation of remote societies that are currently inadequately served by terrestrial networks.”
Inmarsat-5 F1 launched in December 2013 and entered commercial service in July 2014, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This was followed by the launch of Inmarsat-5 F2 on 1 February 2015, which covers the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean and which will enter commercial service later this month.