McLEAN, Va., Aug. 7, 2007 – International Launch Services (ILS) and Inmarsat Plc announced a contract today for launch of the Inmarsat 4-F3 satellite on a Proton Breeze M vehicle in early 2008.
This satellite, third in the constellation, will enable Inmarsat to offer global coverage with its BGAN mobile broadband service, as well as existing services. Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is planned for the March-April time period. Financial terms were not disclosed.
ILS will provide an enhanced version of its Proton Breeze M vehicle, which is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow. The Enhanced Proton has the capability to lift payloads exceeding 6 metric tons.
The F3 satellite, weighing more than 5900 kg, will be one of the heaviest commercial payloads to date for Proton. The Inmarsat 4 series of satellites are Eurostar E3000 models built by Astrium, among the most sophisticated commercial satellites ever launched and 60 times more powerful than their predecessors.
ILS President Frank McKenna noted that the Proton demonstrated its enhanced capabilities a month ago with the successful launch of DIRECTV 10, which is similar in mass to the Inmarsat F4 satellite. "Enhanced Proton performed as anticipated, and fits well with Inmarsatï¿½s requirements," McKenna said. "We understand how important it is for Inmarsat to complete its BGAN expansion in a timely fashion, and we are focusing on performance to meet Inmarsat's schedule demands for a launch of F4 in the first quarter of 2008."
Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and CEO, Inmarsat Plc, said: "In response to the growth we are seeing from our maritime, aero and new BGAN customers we are pleased to announce the signing of this contract with ILS. This will allow us to take the global services that are standard for Inmarsat into the new fleet of Inmarsat 4's. We will now have global coverage for all services in the future."
The Proton enhancements are the result of more than two years of research, development and testing by Khrunichev, which is a partner in the ILS joint venture. While the primary purpose of the upgrades was to meet the requirements of ILS commercial customers and their larger satellites, the enhanced vehicle will ultimately be used for Russian federal missions as well.
ILS is an American-based joint venture of Space Transport Inc. and Khrunichev, one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry. Headquartered in McLean, Va., ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton vehicle worldwide to commercial satellite operators. As of the first half of this year, the company brought in more than $1 billion in new business and has a backlog of 22 missions.