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(10 December 2020 – Inmarsat) Inmarsat has confirmed the commercial service introduction (CSI) of GX5, the company’s newest, most powerful geostationary satellite to date.

GX5 is the fourteenth satellite currently in service with Inmarsat and provides additional capacity to Europe and the Middle East on the industry-leading Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band high-speed satellite broadband service.

GX5 satellite (courtesy: Inmarsat)

The satellite, launched in November 2019, delivers approximately double the combined capacity of the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4). Together with a significantly expanded ground station network and enhanced cloud-based processing, GX5 supplements the global coverage of GX and supports the rapid growth in customer demand for GX services in the region, particularly for aviation connectivity, such as passenger Wi-Fi, as well as government and commercial maritime services.

This milestone heralds the start of an unprecedented enhancement in the overall capacity and capabilities of the GX network, which was the first and remains the only globally available high-speed mobile broadband network delivered by a single operator. Inmarsat’s technology roadmap will see a further seven launches by 2024, five in geostationary orbit – adding speed, capacity and resilience – and two in highly elliptical orbit, which will begin the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service in the commercially and strategically critical Arctic region.

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Global Xpress coverage map with the addition of GX5 (purple overlay for additional capacity for Europe and the Middle East) (courtesy: Inmarsat)

Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive Officer of Inmarsat, said: “As the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, we have an ambitious vision for the future and we are progressing the most innovative technology development programme in our history to achieve this. During these recent unprecedented circumstances, we have supported our partners and customers with the speed and agility for which Inmarsat has become known globally. We are in this for the long haul, with customer and partner trust based on four-decades of meeting our commitments and a bright future ahead, guided by our technology roadmap. Entry into service of GX5 is the first of several exciting steps ahead for us on that journey.”

GX is the most successful service launch in the history of Inmarsat. The company will celebrate the fifth anniversary of GX as a globally available service in early 2021 and it has already become the gold standard for seamless, mobile broadband services across multiple sectors. Tens of thousands of active users throughout aviation, maritime, enterprise and government depend on GX daily, supported by Inmarsat’s network of world leading technology, manufacturing and channel partners.

Peter Hadinger, Chief Technology Officer of Inmarsat, said: “Inmarsat is investing more than ever before to deliver global, highly differentiated technology platforms on which partners & customers can securely invest & innovate for growth. The company’s fully funded technology roadmap will lead to forthcoming launches for our sixth generation of satellites, the I-6s, then on to GX7, 8 & 9 and two Arctic payloads, GX10A and GX10B, to provide further fresh impetus to our GX success story. Our partners and customers can confidently invest in long-term, transformational global digitisation strategies based on Inmarsat’s innovative technology roadmap for the future.”

The services delivered over GX5 will be backwards compatible with existing GX terminals, future-proofing customer investment in GX technology and services. Inmarsat partners and customers benefit from the strength, resilience and agility provided by the company, an innovative and diversified business that works in partnership with communities, companies and countries across the world. The flexibility inherent in Inmarsat communications infrastructure and the way in which the company works with partners and customers ensures that they are enabled to address the most complex challenges and opportunities that they face. Customers will see the benefits of GX5 as they are brought into the network in the coming weeks.

Rupert Pearce concluded: “Anytime and anywhere, our partners and customers are strongly positioned to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge, based on their ability to deploy our unique portfolio of agile, global, mobile connectivity solutions and services. We believe that reliable, seamless connectivity is now more vital than ever and will play a crucial role in the accelerated adoption of digital technology as the world emerges from Covid-19.”

New ground stations for GX5 are at:

  • Aussaguel, France: This is a new GX site, and Inmarsat’s first Ka-band antenna at this location.
  • Burum, Netherlands: This will be the first Ka-band gateway hosted at Burum. It has been an Inmarsat site for many years.
  • Cheia, Romania: A new site, Inmarsat’s first Ka-band antenna at this location.
  • Fucino, Italy: This will be the second Inmarsat Ka-band gateway at the Fucino site.
  • Kofinou, Cyprus: This is a new site for Inmarsat.
  • Nemea, Greece: This is the third Inmarsat gateway in Nemea.

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Inmarsat’s ground network is expanding from 21 in 2019 to 30 by 2021 (courtesy: Inmarsat)

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat is the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications. It owns and operates the world’s most diverse global portfolio of mobile telecommunications satellite networks, and holds a multi-layered, global spectrum portfolio, covering L-band, Ka-band and S-band, enabling unparalleled breadth and diversity in the solutions it provides. Inmarsat’s long-established global distribution network includes not only the world’s leading channel partners but also its own strong direct retail capabilities, enabling end to end customer service assurance.

The company has an unrivalled track record of operating the world’s most reliable global mobile satellite telecommunications networks, sustaining business and mission critical safety & operational applications for more than 40 years. It is also a major driving force behind technological innovation in mobile satellite communications, sustaining its leadership through a substantial investment and a powerful network of technology and manufacturing partners.

Inmarsat operates across a diversified portfolio of sectors with the financial resources to fund its business strategy and holds leading positions in the Maritime, Government, Aviation and Enterprise satcoms markets, operating consistently as a trusted, responsive and high-quality partner to its customers across the globe.

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Exolaunch delivers 30 small satellites into orbit on SpaceX’s first dedicated Rideshare launch

Exolaunch delivers 30 small satellites into orbit on SpaceXs first

(24 January 2021 – Exolaunch) Exolaunch has announced a successful launch of 30 commercial, space agency, and university satellites for its customers from Europe and the U.S. on the first dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program.

The mission, named “Zeitgeist,” lifted off on January 24 at 15:00 UTC on Falcon 9 “Transporter-1,” completing one of the largest and most diverse rideshare missions for Exolaunch.

Falcon 9 liftoff (courtesy: Exolaunch)

Zeitgeist kicked-off the first of several rideshares Exolaunch will manifest on Falcon 9 as part of a multi-launch agreement with SpaceX. On this mission, Exolaunch provided deployment, mission management and integration services to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Dresden Technical University, ICEYE, NanoAvionics and other commercial companies for IoT, Earth observation and scientific applications.

“This Zeitgeist mission set a new standard for rideshare launches and not only was a successful demonstration of Exolaunch’s capabilities, but also paved the way for smallsat developers from around the world to participate in SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program,” said Jeanne Medvedeva, Vice President of Launch Services at Exolaunch. “We are proud to be working with so many of the world’s leading satellite and technology companies to advance the NewSpace industry, and we are already looking ahead to additional Falcon 9 launches later this year.”

Zeitgeist was Exolaunch’s 12th rideshare mission. As with previous launches, Exolaunch utilized its proprietary flight-proven separation systems – CarboNIX, the next generation shock-free separation system for microsatellites, upgraded modifications of EXOpod cubesat deployers, as well as its EXObox sequencers to flawlessly deploy its customers’ satellites into the target orbit. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 140 smallsats on multiple launch vehicles.

Exolaunch’s manifest on the Transporter-1 mission includes the following satellites:

  • Charlie nanosatellite built by NanoAvionics for Aurora Insight: The first of two nanosatellites, built and integrated by NanoAvionics for US radio frequency spectrum and wireless data provider Aurora Insight.
  • CubeLCT nanosatellite from the German Aerospace Center (DLR): The CubeLCT is developed by DLR Institute of Communications and Navigation in close cooperation with its commercialization partner Tesat-Spacecom (TESAT) in Backnang. The satellite has been developed and integrated by the Danish company GomSpace. The development of the CubeLCT serves the demand for increasing bandwidth, resulting in new sensor capabilities on small satellites.
  • SOMP-IIb (Student’s Oxygen Measurement Project) nanosatellite from Dresden Technical University: Part of a student small satellite project of the Dresden Technical University, the goal is to measure atomic oxygen of the upper atmosphere, test flexible solar cells and more.
  • 3 x ICEYE satellites: Three more satellites of the commercial constellation of radar imaging satellites built and operated by ICEYE.
  • 24 satellites from unnamed commercial customers.
  • Exolaunch continues to make space more accessible through regular and cost-efficient rideshare missions for small satellites. In addition to successful satellite deployments from SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Exolaunch’s flight heritage includes Arianespace’s Soyuz-ST, RocketLab’s Electron, Roscosmos’ Soyuz-2 and a scheduled mission with ISRO’s PSLV later this year.

About Exolaunch

Exolaunch provides rideshare launch and deployment services for NewSpace companies. Its flight heritage includes the successful deployment of 140 small satellites into orbit through its global network of launch vehicle providers. Exolaunch enables the visions of New Space leaders, the world’s most innovative startups, research institutions, government organizations, and space agencies. The company also manufactures flight-proven separation systems to deliver the best-in-class integration services and deployment for small satellites.

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Northrop Grumman completes validation test of new rocket motor for United Launch Alliance

Northrop Grumman completes validation test of new rocket motor for

(21 January 2021 – Northrop Grumman) Northrop Grumman conducted a validation ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) today in Promontory.

This variation of the company’s GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Northrop Grumman conducted a validation test of its GEM 63XL rocket motor on Jan. 21 at its Promontory, Utah, facility. The GEM 63XL will support the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. (courtesy: Northrop Grumman)

“This new motor optimizes our best-in-class technologies and leverages flight-proven solid rocket propulsion designs to provide our customers with the most reliable product,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “Evolving the original GEM 63 design utilizes our decades of GEM strap-on booster expertise while enhancing capabilities for heavy-lift missions.”

During today’s static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to validate the performance capability of the motor design. Additionally, this firing verified the motor’s internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a hot-conditioned environment.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019. The first GEM 63 motors supported ULA’s Atlas V rocket in November 2020.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

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SSC and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands to collaborate in optical communication

SSC and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands to collaborate in

(21 January 2021 – SSC) SSC and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (Airbus DS NL) have signed an MOU for collaborative activities regarding ground equipment for space-to-ground optical communication.

The agreement will accelerate the development of commercially viable optical ground stations that will be offered by Airbus DS NL and used by SSC in delivering ground network services.

One of the collaborative activities in developing this capability includes optical communication tests against the CubeLCT optical terminal on the Photo Images Cross Laser (PIXL-1) Mission, organised in close co-operation with project partner TESAT. PIXL-1 will be launched the 22nd of January.

“Airbus Netherlands will be an important partner as SSC continues to add optical communication solutions to our global network of ground stations. Their modern infrastructure and industry-leading knowledge will be a vital contribution to our service offering”, says Stefan Gardefjord, CEO at SSC.

Optical communication between ground stations and satellites in orbit enables broadband connectivity via space, providing a secure and efficient solution for the fast-growing worldwide demand for data.

“Optical communication will be a game changer in this era in which we increasingly share data. We have a strong desire to work with Swedish Space Corporation to further build up our capabilities for optical ground stations, as they have been at the forefront of ground stations services for decades”, says Maarten Schippers, CEO at Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands.

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