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MHI launches Inmarsat-6 F1 communications satellite into orbit

Inmarsat will use the satellite’s dual-band payload to provide connectivity services to maritime, aviation, and government markets.

Inmarsat’s first dual-band telecommunications satellite launched on December 22 aboard Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-2A rocket.

Inmarsat-6 F1 (I-6 F), which relies on all-electric propulsion for orbit raising, will need about 200 days to climb to its geostationary slot above the Indian Ocean.

I-6 F1 is the first of two identical satellites Inmarsat ordered from Europe’s Airbus Defence and Space equipped with a hybrid L- and Ka-band payload. The second satellite, I-6 F2, is slated to launch on an undisclosed rocket next year.

The H-IIA launch vehicle took off from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center in Japan at 2:33 PM GMT. Inmarsat confirmed initial telemetry for the satellite was received after launch. The satellite is now performing electronic orbit raising to reach its Geostationary (GEO) orbital slot.

Inmarsat’s sixth-generation (I-6) satellites will be the company’s first to host dual-payloads, utilising different frequency bands. The I-6s will support L-band (ELERA) and Ka-band (Global Xpress) services as part of the company’s global, multi-dimensional, dynamic mesh network Orchestra.

MHI provides its launch services with the H-IIA launch vehicle, which, with the success of H-IIA F45, has achieved a success rate of 97.8%, and a cumulative success rate of 98.1% including H-IIA and H-IIB.

Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “Today Inmarsat began the next phase of its world-leading technology roadmap thanks to the launch of I-6 F1, the first of seven we have planned in the coming three years. I-6 F1 will play a crucial role in Inmarsat’s world-leading, dynamic mesh network Orchestra as we plot the course to further connectivity innovation for our customers. My warmest thanks to my Inmarsat colleagues and the teams at MHI and Airbus Defence and Space for their excellent delivery, as well as to the Tanegashima community for its hospitality during our launch programme.“

Tomoe Nishigaya, Vice President and Senior General Manager for Space Systems in MHI, added: “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Inmarsat and Airbus Defence and Space for providing continuous support to MHI since MHI received the launch services contract in 2017. I also wish to thank the Japanese government, institutions and local people in Tanegashima for their generous understanding and great cooperation to perform the launch. I am proud that we launched the first, cutting-edge satellite of Inmarsat’s I-6 fleet successfully and as scheduled. I sincerely hope that the satellite will reach its orbit and start communication services as planned, enabling ever more innovative communications for people all over the world. MHI values the relationships of trust we have built over the years with Inmarsat and our other customers and continues to provide launch services that flexibly address customers’ needs.”