Toulouse, February 2nd, 2005 – EADS Astrium, Europe’s leading satellite manufacturer, has completed production and test of the first Inmarsat-4 spacecraft, the world’s most sophisticated commercial communications satellite. The spacecraft will leave the Toulouse facility on 5 February 2005 for shipment to Cape Canaveral.

Scheduled for launch on 10 March 2005 aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first giant Inmarsat-4 satellite will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 65 degrees East longitude. It will enable Inmarsat to address a wide area covering most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the Indian Ocean. A second satellite is planned for launch in summer 2005 to cover South America, most of North America, the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Pacific Ocean. A third satellite is also at an advanced stage of production. All three satellites are identical and interchangeable – their coverage is programmable and can be reconfigured in orbit.

These satellites are based on EADS Astrium’s Eurostar E3000 satellite platform, three of which entered commercial service in 2004. All three Inmarsat-4 satellites are equipped with electric propulsion system. Their 45m long solar array generate 14 kW of electrical power at beginning of life and the spacecraft weighs approximately 5,940 kg at launch. The main body is 7 metres high and the unfurlable antenna reflector has a diameter of about 10 metres. EADS Astrium’s facilities in the UK, Germany, Spain and France have contributed to the design and manufacture of the highly innovative spacecraft and provided most advanced technologies.

The spacecraft will provide continuity with existing Inmarsat systems and offer additional capacity and performance. They will also provide the new Broadband Global Area Network service over the major land masses and a large part of the ocean surface. This will extend coverage of third generation terrestrial mobile networks such as UMTS (3G) for telephony, data and high speed Internet access to laptop and palm-sized terminals. This will enable business travellers, disaster relief workers, field based oil researchers, journalists, etc to operate a virtual office anywhere in the satellite footprint, including on maritime or air routes.

In order to support small terminals over the whole area with the high signal strength required, each satellite can digitally form more than 200 spot beams. More power and spectrum can be allocated to certain beams, further enhancing mission flexibility to cope with the fluctuations in traffic. An on-board digital signal processor routes the signals to the different beams, acting like a switchboard in the sky: any signal uplink can be routed to any mobile downlink beam and vice versa. Frequency agility and extensive frequency re-use across the beams permit efficient utilisation of the available channels in the L-band spectrum to provide increased capacity.

The satellites will link to gateways and directly to users equipped with different types of ground terminal, ranging from hand-held to transportable terminals with data rates of up to 1 Mbps. A typical user terminal looking like a small laptop, will receive at 432 Kbps.

The Inmarsat-4 satellites also feature 19 wide beams and full global coverage to provide continuity of existing Inmarsat services for maritime, air and emergency services. A navigation package extends and enhances the navigation signals already available on Inmarsat-3 satellites for the air traffic community.

Andrew Sukawaty, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “I applaud the industrial performance of EADS Astrium who met the challenge of designing and building such a complex and flexible spacecraft featuring the most advanced technologies. The extraordinary I-4 fleet of satellites will allow Inmarsat to provide mobile users with high speed internet connectivity virtually anywhere in the world.”

Antoine Bouvier, CEO of EADS Astrium added: “Inmarsat-4 is certainly one of the most sophisticated communications satellites ever built, and tangible proof of our ability to build advanced and flexible communications payloads. We are proud of this achievement, and thank Inmarsat for the confidence they had in EADS Astrium on this innovative and ambitious programme.”

Technical features of Inmarsat-4 F1


  • Main body dimensions: 7 x 2.9 x 2.3m
  • Solar array span: 45m
  • Solar array power: approximately 14 kW at beginning of life
  • Payload power: 9 kW at end of life
  • Chemical and electrical (plasma) propulsion systems
  • Launch mass: approximately 5,940kg
  • Orbital location: 65°E in geostationary orbit (F2 will be 54°W)
  • Design lifetime: 10 years (target 13 year mission life)

Payload :

  • Processed Mobile Mission payload
  • Channel bandwidth: 200 kHz or any multiple
  • Number of channels: more than 600 channels
  • Forward C-band to L-band with return L-band to C-band
  • Direct L-band to L-band user routing on-board
  • C-band to C-band link for station cross-link
  • Number of SSPAs: 150 (120 active) grouped in multi-port amplifiers
  • Number of digitally-formed beams / services:
  • Personal Multimedia Communications: more than 200 spot beams
  • Existing and Evolved: 19 wide beams
  • Global Coverage
  • Mobile link EIRP: approximately 67 dBW
  • Antenna feed array: 120 active elements in L-band
  • Antenna reflector: unfurlable type, elliptical 9 x 12 m once deployed in
  • orbit (80m2)
  • Coverage: programmable and reconfigurable in orbit
  • Navigation Package
  • Up-link in C-band
  • Down-link in L1 to L5 bands


EADS Astrium is Europe’s leading satellite specialist. Its activities cover complete civil and military telecommunications and Earth observation systems, science and navigation programmes, and all spacecraft avionics and equipment.

EADS Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS SPACE, which is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems. In 2003, EADS SPACE had a turnover of more than 2.4 billion euros and about 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2003, EADS generated revenues of 30.1 billion euros and employed a workforce of more than 100,000.