Inmarsat GX satellites for polar coverage begin ground tests

Inmarsat’s new owner Viasat has announced that the first of its two new satellites planned to provide Global Xpress VSAT coverage across the Arctic has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing.

The new satellites, part of the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission being jointly conducted with Space Norway, will carry Viasat’s GX10A and B payloads, which aim to connect users in the Far North in 2024.

The mission, managed by Space Norway Heosat, will see the two satellites deployed in a highly elliptical orbit (HEO) above the Earth. Operating in an oval-shaped orbit around the poles, the satellites will speed up when over the South Pole and slow down above the North Pole, tagging each other to deliver persistent coverage of the northernmost region of Earth.

For Viasat, the GX10A and B payloads aboard these two HEO satellites are expected to operate as part of the wider Global Xpress constellation, expanding current coverage and extending the network into new orbital paths. The satellites will be the first for either Viasat or Inmarsat that do not operate in geostationary orbit.

“Arctic connectivity is urgent because it supports scientific research, enables new trade routes, and underpins strategic government action in a new geopolitical landscape,” said Guru Gowrappan, President, Viasat.

“This project is about developing our networks ahead of that need by providing high-quality mobile broadband services for travel in and out of the Arctic. I would like to thank Space Norway for their continued collaboration as we enable meaningful connections for a better, safer, more connected world.”

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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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