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ILS to Launch Inmarsat Satellite On Proton Vehicle Next Spring

Launch dates agreed with ILS for third Inmarsat-4 satellite
The third and final satellite in the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) constellation could be launched as soon as March or April 2008 under a contract signed with International Launch Services (ILS). The plan is for ILS to launch the Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite on a Proton launch vehicle from its Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. However, Inmarsat's option to launch the satellite on an Atlas launch vehicle in 2009 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, remains in place and will now be regarded as a backup capability.
by Staff Writers
McLean VA (SPX) Aug 08, 2007
International Launch Services (ILS) and Inmarsat announced a contract for launch of the Inmarsat 4-F3 satellite on a Proton Breeze M vehicle in early 2008. This satellite, third in the constellation, will enable Inmarsat to offer global coverage with its BGAN mobile broadband service, as well as existing services. Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is planned for the March-April time period. Financial terms were not disclosed.

ILS will provide an enhanced version of its Proton Breeze M vehicle, which is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow. The Enhanced Proton has the capability to lift payloads exceeding 6 metric tons.

The F3 satellite, weighing more than 5900 kg, will be one of the heaviest commercial payloads to date for Proton. The Inmarsat 4 series of satellites are Eurostar E3000 models built by Astrium, among the most sophisticated commercial satellites ever launched and 60 times more powerful than their predecessors.

ILS President Frank McKenna noted that the Proton demonstrated its enhanced capabilities a month ago with the successful launch of DIRECTV 10, which is similar in mass to the Inmarsat F4 satellite. "Enhanced Proton performed as anticipated, and fits well with Inmarsat's requirements," McKenna said. "We understand how important it is for Inmarsat to complete its BGAN expansion in a timely fashion, and we are focusing on performance to meet Inmarsat's schedule demands for a launch of F4 in the first quarter of 2008."

Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and CEO, Inmarsat Plc, said: "In response to the growth we are seeing from our maritime, aero and new BGAN customers we are pleased to announce the signing of this contract with ILS. This will allow us to take the global services that are standard for Inmarsat into the new fleet of Inmarsat 4's. We will now have global coverage for all services in the future."

The Proton enhancements are the result of more than two years of research, development and testing by Khrunichev, which is a partner in the ILS joint venture. While the primary purpose of the upgrades was to meet the requirements of ILS commercial customers and their larger satellites, the enhanced vehicle will ultimately be used for Russian federal missions as well.

Voice and broadband
The Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites are among the largest and most sophisticated commercial communication satellites ever built, and are capable of delivering advanced voice and broadband data communications to mobile users.

Three Inmarsat-4 satellites were built for Inmarsat by EADS Astrium. The first in the series, I-4 F1, was launched in March 2005, and has an orbital slot over the Indian Ocean at 64 degrees east. The second, I-4 F2, was launched in November 2005, and provides coverage for the Americas from an orbital slot at 154 degrees west.

The I-4 F3 was a ground spare for the two launches in 2005, but its launch and orbital position will complete the Inmarsat-4 constellation and support the global delivery of Inmarsat's latest services.

Global coverage
Andrew Sukawaty, CEO and chairman of Inmarsat, said: "Our agreement with ILS has enabled us to accelerate our launch plans for the I-4 F3.

"The third satellite will provide global coverage for our existing BGAN service and will benefit our new broadband maritime and aeronautical services as well as our global satellite phone service.

"This will provide incremental opportunities for growth in our maritime and aeronautical markets."

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European Automated Space Truck Arrive At South American Spaceport
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Aug 02, 2007
After a transatlantic crossing by sea, Jules Verne, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station, arrived at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, yesterday morning. Nearly two weeks after leaving Rotterdam harbour, the French cargo ship MN Toucan, carrying around 400 tonnes of spacecraft and equipment for the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), sailed into Pariacabo harbour on Monday afternoon.

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