USN-led Team Nabs Global Xpress Gateway Contract

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WASHINGTON — Universal Space Network (USN) of Horsham, Pennsylvania, will design, build and operate a Ka-band military gateway station for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite constellation under a contract worth more than $12 million with Inmarsat distribution partner Boeing Commercial Satellite Services, USN announced June 23.

As part of its original $1.2 billion contract to build three Global Xpress Ka-band satellites for London-based Inmarsat, Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, California, agreed to purchase 10 percent of the system’s capacity for resale to U.S. government customers. Boeing has since won an order for an additional satellite and also has agreed to market Global Xpress capacity to commercial customers.

USN’s partners on the Global Xpress Gateway include SSC Chile, a subsidiary of Sweden-based SSC, which owns USN, ViaSat of Carlsbad, California, and Telefonica/Movistar. SSC Chile will operate the gateway, ViaSat will supply the antenna and other network systems, and Telefonica/Movistar will supply the terrestrial fiber links.

The gateway will be located at SSC Chile’s facility 38 kilometers north of Santiago, said Kevin Mortensen, a USN business development associate. USN, which provides satellite operations services on a commercial basis, is experienced at hosting antennas owned by third parties, the company said.

The competitively awarded contract is a firm fixed price arrangement that covers five years, with extension options available, USN said. Service is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014.

One Inmarsat Global Xpress satellite has been launched to date. Inmarsat had hoped to launch two additional satellites aboard Proton rockets before the end of this year — three are necessary for global service — but that schedule is now uncertain following a May Proton failure.