Flight International Online news 09:00GMT: Satellite communications operator Inmarsat is to decide early next year if it will launch its third Inmarsat-4 (I-4) spacecraft, after the successful orbit of its second I-4, to provide services to the Pacific ocean region.

The second I-4, built by EADS Astrium, reached geosynchronous orbit last month after its launch on 8 November by Sea Launch.

The 45m (147ft) wingspan solar array I-4 is now being tested at 8°E longitude on its geostationary arc.
It's the sixth Eurostar E3000 spacecraft Astrium has built and will operate at 53°W.

"Early next year we'll decide whether to launch the third satellite [for the Pacific region], which is currently a spare," says Inmarsat.

The decision will be based on traffic expectations from users such as airlines.

On 7 December the company announced the launch of its Broadband Regional Area Network (BGAN) service for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Indian ocean.

It uses the I-4s to deliver data at speeds of up to 492kilobits per second to mobile users.

The second I-4 will enable Inmarsat to provide BGAN services to the Americas, the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Pacific Ocean. Its services start in the second quarter of 2006.

All three satellites are identical and interchangeable - their coverage is programmable and can be reconfigured in orbit.



Source: Flight International