SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched satellite for in-flight Wi-Fi, mobile broadband
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has finally taken flight carrying the heavy Inmarsat communications satellite into orbit. This marks Elon Musk's SpaceX's second launch within a brief span of 14 days and its sixth this year. The satellite that piggybacked on Falcon 9 is a part of the $1.6 billion Global Xpress broadband network plan, to broadcast the Internet. Here's all you need to know.
The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite is the heaviest satellite launched till date by SpaceX, weighing 13,417 pounds and depleted all of Falcon 9's first-stage propellants, thus, it was not possible to get it back for reuse like the launchers in the past. The satellite was initially developed as a spare and is now being used to expand the reach of existing Global Xpress broadband network.
Michele Franci, Inmarsat's chief technology officer said, "Global Xpress, with the first three Inmarsat 5 satellites, provides global coverage, but it's a relatively thin layer, and then we would start going deep where needed, as needed, as market requirements push forward or user patterns change." Boeing-made $250 million worth Inmarsat-5 is slated to bolster Internet services for the firm's airborne connectivity market.
Elucidating on what Inmarsat-5's role will be, Inmarsat CTO Franci said, "Our biggest market today is in merchant shipping, and there it will provide a combination of operational services and crew welfare." Moreover, "It's not designed as a local augmentation, but it nevertheless does bring significant additional capacity…we can create this effect of concentrating capacity in particular areas of the world where needed."
Inmarsat-5 satellite was initially scheduled for a SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, but repeated delay in its debut made Global Xpress opt for a smaller Falcon 9 to prevent a "very significant delay." Franci remarked, "SpaceX is a very interesting company to work with… They have not invented a different way of bringing satellites to orbit, but they did invent a different way of working."