First Inmarsat dual-band satellite reaches geostationary orbit for testing

Inmarsat has confirmed that the first of its new generation I-6 satellite fleet has now reached geostationary orbit 36,000km above the Earth, following its launch from Japan in December 2021, and has begun on-orbit testing.

Carrying both L-band and Ka-band payloads, I-6 F1 will provide a significant enhancement to Inmarsat’s existing L-band and Ka-band networks.

The satellite was launched by MHI at the end of last year and has since been moving towards its orbit location via its all-electric propulsion system. It will carry out an extensive testing programme at a location over the Atlantic before it moves to enter service over the Eastern Indian Ocean in early 2023.

Ground stations at Perth and Merredin in Western Australia will support I-6 F1 services, Inmarsat says.

The satellite will soon be followed by its ‘identical twin’, I-6 F2, which has just completed testing at Airbus Defence and Space facilities in Toulouse, France. It is due to be launched in Q1 2023 by SpaceX.

“The I-6 satellites will extend Inmarsat’s global leadership in L-band services through ELERA to the 2040s, as well as enhance further our Global Xpress Ka-band network capacity in emerging hotspots,” said Peter Hadinger, Inmarsat Chief Technology Officer.

“Offering greater bandwidth and coverage, supporting greater speeds and a greater portfolio of innovative connectivity, Inmarsat’s I-6s also substantially increase the effective capacity of the ELERA network available to our customers. Having double the beams, 50% more spectrum per beam and double the power of the I-4s, the I-6s’ advanced processors match customer demand as and where it is needed in real-time.”

“We look forward to completing testing in orbit for I-6 F1 as well as delivery of I-6 F2 ahead of an early 2023 launch. With both I-6s entering service in 2023 we begin a new era of Inmarsat capabilities to satisfy and exceed our customer needs.”

The I-6 satellites are backward-compatible with existing terminals, so current and future customers will benefit from their introduction, the company notes.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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