in Aerospace / Space

Inmarsat's next-gen GX sat fleet to be delivered by Airbus

Posted 30 May 2019 · Add Comment

Today Inmarsat and Airbus Defence & Space (Airbus) announced they have signed a contract to develop new satellites for Inmarsat's Global Xpress (GX) network – based on Airbus’ new OneSat – which will mark a transformative step-change in inflight broadband capabilities for airlines across the world.



Above: Inmarsat’s newest fleet of satellites, delivered by Airbus, will be mark a transformative step-change in inflight broadband capabilities for airlines.


Airbus has been selected to deliver Inmarsat’s newest fleet of satellites as part of a long-term strategy to develop the most agile, flexible, diverse and cost-effective constellation ever conceived. The satellites, named GX7, 8 & 9, are optimised for real-time mobility and feature thousands of dynamically-formed beams that direct capacity with laser-like precision over high-demand areas. The next generation of geostationary Ka-band satellites, Inmarsat GX7, 8 & 9, are the first three satellites to be based on Airbus’ new OneSat product line, which is fully reconfigurable in orbit.

Featuring on board processing and active antennas, the three Ka-band spacecraft will be able to adjust their coverage, capacity and frequency. They will deliver power and bandwidth dynamically in real-time to adapt to Inmarsat’s requirements to provide HTS (High Throughput) broadband connectivity for the mobility market.  Airbus’ highly innovative OneSat is based on a standard, modular and design-to-manufacture approach, and can be delivered more quickly than existing telecommunications satellites.

With focused, ultra-high-power capacity layered over high demand flight routes and airport hubs during peak hours, the satellites will revolutionise aviation connectivity. The network will immediately relocate capacity in line with real-time flight patterns, new airline routes and seasonal demand surges across the globe, future-proofing the ability for airline customers to invest in a consistently high quality of service for passengers into the future.

The network can rapidly grow capacity for customers through in-orbit repositioning or even launching a new satellite, making it ideally suited to meet the aviation industry’s ever-changing needs. In addition, each satellite will be equipped for remote upgrades to ensure the network remains at the cutting-edge of innovation. Breaking from industry tradition to enable a faster response to growing customer demand, the next-gen GX satellites will be delivered significantly faster than traditional procurement lifecycles.

Airbus’ Head of Space Systems, Nicolas Chamussy said: “We are launching the OneSat product line for our customer Inmarsat, following the successes of the Airbus-built Inmarsat-4 spacecraft, Alphasat and the Inmarsat-6 satellites, which are currently under construction.

"This latest contract continues the long standing innovation relationship between Airbus and Inmarsat. OneSat is a truly disruptive product, both from a manufacturing, and operational point of view, which allows Airbus to offer our customer a market enabling solution with reduced cost and time to orbit.”
 
“OneSat’s high flexibility, very compact design and fast production approach perfectly fits our ambition for our next generation GX spacecraft,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat. “The new satellites will support the growth of the Global Xpress mobility services, in particular to service emerging ‘hot spot’ regions worldwide. The GX7, 8 & 9 satellites will represent the next evolution of HTS technology incorporating new highly flexible capabilities which can be deployed very quickly to support the rapid evolution of the traffic growth from year 2023 onwards.”

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX is the most advanced and agile satellite network ever conceived and no other provider has a clearer commitment to technology enhancements. Building upon our 40 year heritage in global mobile connectivity, the next evolution of GX is made possible by our investment in an infrastructure built specifically for robust and secure mobility – from high performance satellites, ground stations, hardware, software and cybersecurity, to our unrivalled partner ecosystem.”

The new satellites are scheduled to launch from 2023 and build upon the existing GX high-speed global network, which consists of four satellites already in operation and three more being launched over the next three years, starting with the GX5 satellite later in 2019.

The GX network powers Inmarsat’s award-winning GX Aviation inflight broadband, which has world-leading airline customers such as Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, Norwegian, Avianca, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Citilink, Garuda and Philippine Airlines. The newly announced satellites provide backward compatibility, allowing existing customers to benefit from even greater capabilities of the GX network.

“Inmarsat pioneered an exciting new era for global inflight connectivity with the launch of GX Aviation and we are proud to once again be at the forefront of industry innovation with our game-changing new generation of satellites,” added Balaam. “The next evolution of GX assures customers that their requirements will continue to be met, not only today, but into the next decade and beyond. It also demonstrates once again that we have the strategic vision, expertise and financial commitment to stay ahead of competitors.”



Above: Artist impression of the three OneSat satellites deploying after launch.
Copyright Airbus


The ‘ready-made’ OneSat satellite relies on Airbus’ heritage from its highly reliable Eurostar telecommunications satellites plus its experience in mega-constellation manufacturing.

The investments made by Airbus and its partners in the innovative OneSat developments are supported by the European Space Agency and national agencies, in particular the UK and French space agencies.
 

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