Inmarsat taps Arianespace for fifth Global Xpress launch

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WASHINGTON — British satellite operator Inmarsat will launch its next Global Xpress satellite on an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace, the companies announced today.

The mission, slated for the second half of 2019, follows four other Global Xpress satellites, the first three of which launched on International Launch Services Proton rockets, followed by the fourth on a SpaceX Falcon 9. Global Xpress is Inmarsat’ Ka-band high-throughput constellation, operating in geosynchronous orbit.

Though the first Global Xpress to launch with Arianespace, GX-5 is Inmarsat’s tenth launch contract with the European launch provider. Inmarsat’s latest satellite, the European Aviation Network spacecraft, launched June 28 on an Ariane 5.

Inmarsat describes Global Xpress-5, or GX-5, as a “very high throughput satellite” more than 36 times as powerful as one of the already-launched Boeing-built GX satellites.

Thales Alenia Space is building the 4,000 kilogram GX-5 satellite on an upgraded Spacebus 4000 B2 platform with a payload of 72 Ka-band beams and a design life of 16 years. The satellite will cover the Middle East, Europe and India.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said in August that GX-5 would offer “beyond-ViaSat-3-like economics.” ViaSat says each ViaSat-3 satellite will have a terabit of total capacity.