I-4 F3 continues deployment after Proton launch success
The six-tonne satellite blasted off at 22:43 UTC on August 18, reaching speeds of 16,780 miles per hour - or 7,506 metres per second - by the time a signal from the spacecraft was acquired at 02:28 by Inmarsat's ground station at Fucino, Italy. Separation from the Proton upper stage occurred six hours later.
The F3 is now undergoing a series of “burns” to place the satellite in geostationary orbit, followed by deployment of the solar arrays and payload antenna. Once fully tested, it will be positioned at 98 degrees west to complete global coverage of Inmarsat's FleetBroadband service.
The Proton Breeze M is one of the few launch vehicles capable of lifting the double decker-sized I-4 satellite, manufactured by EADS Astrium, directly into geostationary transfer orbit.
Along with its sister craft, the F1 and F2, both launched in 2005, it will enable us to deliver global connectivity for users of our broadband mobile services — BGAN, FleetBroadband and SwiftBroadband.
The I-4 constellation will also support a new global maritime satellite phone service from Inmarsat.
Commenting on the importance of this development for the maritime sector, Piers Cunningham, Inmarsat's head of maritime business, said: “The move from Inmarsat-3 to Inmarsat-4 satellite-based technologies, such as FleetBroadband, will be a substantial evolution for all maritime users, especially for those where the size of the FleetBroadband terminals allows installation on smaller maritime platforms.
“In the past, these vessels may have been restricted, in terms of voice and data coverage, by the terminals' reliance on Inmarsat-3 spot beam patterns. However, with FleetBroadband and the I-4 satellites, this is no longer a concern, and the extremities of the Pacific will benefit from FleetBroadband terminals capable of operating in all modes, regardless of location, under the I-4 footprint.
“Also, from a regulatory standpoint, any evolution of maritime requirements will be able to incorporate truly globally deployable technology.”
The I-4 F3 satellite will provide coverage to the Americas for Inmarsat's mobile broadband services.
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