This year, Inmarsat aims to deploy the sixth-generation geostationary satellite constellation, which will extend the Global Xpress (GX) network as well as introduce additional L-band functionality. The satellite corporation based in the United Kingdom aims to launch two Inmarsat-6 satellites to improve Ka-band (GX) as well as L-band (Fleetbroadband) power.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will fly the first of the Airbus Defence & Space-built satellites (GX6A) later in the year 2021. SpaceX plans to fly the GX6B spacecraft in 2022. This will be Inmarsat’s most efficient and adaptable mobile communications satellites to date.
Their arrival comes after the effective launch of commercial services via the GX5 satellite on December 10, 2020. ThalesAleniaSpace designed GX5 to provide coverage across Europe as well as the Middle East. Inmarsat’s GX network also comprises four Boeing-built geostationary satellites. In January 2021, the organization marked five years of Ka-band connectivity.
It will continue to invest in satellites outside the Inmarsat-6 devices. Three more GX satellites, as well as GX payloads on the two third-party satellites, will be manufactured, launched, and commission by Inmarsat. Inmarsat expects to deploy two satellites with the GX payloads in the year 2022, powered by Space Norway Heosat. GX10A and 10B would be put in increasingly elliptical orbits to ensure continuous availability for shipping over 65 degrees north latitude.
The payloads, which Northrop designed, would extend Inmarsat’s broadband network into the Arctic, improving coverage along northern ocean routes. This multi-beam, high-throughput capability, according to Inmarsat, would smoothly fit into the current and expected GX network. Inmarsat intends to launch three further Airbus Defence & Space satellites – GX7, GX8, as well as GX9 – in 2023, completing the first software-focused constellation for the global smartphone communications.
Each satellite can provide twice the capability of the current GX network in use (GX1-5). They’ll produce thousands of individual spot beams of varying sizes, bandwidths, and capacities that can be readjusted and repositioned all around the planet at the same time. Inmarsat will react to surges in consumer demand immediately and precisely with these satellites, delivering overlapped power across regional hotspots.
Inmarsat is expanding the GX ground network to completely combine each generation of the GX satellites for commercial operation beginning in 2024 to accommodate these capabilities. The latest GX technologies would be backward compatible with current terminals, enabling shipowners to take advantage of potential infrastructure upgrades without needing to upgrade hardware. On January 21, 2021, Inmarsat reached a record of 10,000 ships utilizing its Ka-band-based Fleet Xpress.