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Science
16 May 2017

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched satellite for in-flight Wi-Fi, mobile broadband

SpaceX's sixth launch, second in 14 days

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.

In context

SpaceX's sixth launch, second in 14 days
The heaviest payload till date for SpaceX

Payload

The heaviest payload till date for SpaceX

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.

Internet

Bringing Internet to the good folks out there

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.

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I "sea" what you mean

Ship

I "sea" what you mean

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."

Falcon

SpaceX, not different, just unique

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."

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