Inmarsat has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the launch provider for the first satellite in the Inmarsat-6 fleet (Inmarsat-6 F1).
The value of the contract has not been disclosed. The satellite, which is under construction by Airbus Defence and Space, is scheduled for launch in 2020 using MHI's H-IIA launch vehicle, MHI said in a statement Tuesday.
Inmarsat's sixth-generation (I-6) fleet will be the first to feature dual-payload satellites; each supporting L-band and Ka-band (Global Xpress) services. The I-6 satellites represent a step change in the capacity of Inmarsat's L-band services and will support a new generation of L-band capabilities, from advanced global safety services and very low cost mobile services, to Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
The Ka-band payload will add further depth to Inmarsat's Global Xpress (GX) constellation, which began offering high-throughput broadband services worldwide in 2015. Through the I-6's Ka-band payload, Inmarsat will augment its global coverage with greater depth of capacity in regions of greatest demand.
"We hope to provide further launch services using our latest H3 rocket in future," said Masahiro Atsumi, Vice President & Senior General Manager for Space Systems in MHI.
The successor to the H-IIA - the H3 Launch Vehicle - is now being developed by MHI and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It will allow even more flexible and cost-efficient launch services, and is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2020.
Inmarsat will make a decision on its launch partner for the second I-6 satellite in due course.