Press Release

Inmarsat and Astrium sign Alphasat I-XL satellite contract

By SpaceRef Editor
November 23, 2007
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New generation of advanced geomobile communications – Inmarsat XL mission to augment Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service Alphasat will use the protoflight model of new European Alphabus platform and carry ESA technology demonstration payloads

London, 23 November 2007: Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has awarded a contract to the European satellite leader Astrium for the Alphasat I-XL satellite to augment its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service. Alphasat will be one of the world’s largest telecommunications satellites and Inmarsat expects its investment in the satellite – excluding insurance – will be will be in the region of O260 million.

The Alphasat contract is supported by ESA and national space agencies. Astrium is prime contractor for the satellite that will incorporate a number of innovative features developed throughout Europe. Key telecommunications payload technology will be designed and manufactured in the UK.

The new satellite Alphasat I-XL, will support a new generation of mobile technologies and enable communications across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Alphasat will provide increased capacity able to handle more than 750 channels in L band with improved quality particularly for satellite phone users.

The I-XL will, through increased efficiency of spectrum use, enable:

  • robust communications in crisis and disaster emergencies; potential connection of houses, schools and businesses in remote locations, via Inmarsat BGAN portable data terminals;
  • governments to connect with dispersed populations; essential voice and data communications for a wide range of industry sectors such as media, maritime, oil and gas.

Andrew Sukawaty, CEO Inmarsat said: “Alphasat will enable us to offer improved services through greater capacity, better quality communications and faster download times to existing and future Inmarsat customers.”

Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium said: “Astrium is proud to be have been chosen to implement this ambitious satellite programme that will demonstrate a large number of innovations, both at platform and payload level, and position Astrium firmly as a world leader for mobile satellite communications technology.”

In addition to the Inmarsat geomobile mission, Alphasat payload capacity will be used to support the development of three Technology Demonstration Payloads (TDPs) selected by ESA for flight on Alphasat.

The Alphasat satellite will utilise the protoflight model of the Alphabus platform, currently under development by the European satellite industry.

Alphasat I-XL will feature a new generation digital signal processor for the payload, and a 12-metre aperture antenna reflector. The spacecraft will have a launch mass of more than 6,000kg at launch, an electrical power of 12kW. Planned for launch in 2012, Alphasat I-XL has a design lifetime of 15 years.

About Astrium

Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2006, Astrium had a turnover of O3.2 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are: the business units Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Astrium Services for the development and delivery of satellite services.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2005, EADS generated revenues of O34.2 billion and employed a workforce of more than 113,000.

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT) is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications. Since 1979, the company has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organisations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat’s services are delivered through a global network of more than 500 distribution partners and service providers operating in 180 countries. For the year ended 31 December 2006, Inmarsat plc had total revenue of US$ 500.1 million.


Remi Roland (Astrium FR) – Phone: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 37

Jeremy Close (Astrium UK) – Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Mathias Pikelj (Astrium GER) – Phone: +49 (0) 7545 8 91 23

Francisco Lechon (Astrium ESP) – Phone: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41

Chris McLaughlin (Inmarsat plc) – Phone: +44 (0)20 7728 1015

John Warehand (Inmarsat plc) – Phone: +44 (0)20 7728 1579

SpaceRef staff editor.