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Inmarsat and Rockwell Collins have entered into negotiations in bringing global broadband connectivity for the future Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) aeronautical service.

According to Inmarsat, Global Xpress will be the only global broadband system operating in the Ka-band (20/30 GHz), with transmission speeds at least double that of Ku-band counterparts (14 GHz).

Inmarsat says Global Xpress will be the first service to offer global mobile broadband coverage for remote locations around the world. The global Ka broadband connectivity will begin after the launch of the first Inmarsat-5 satellite scheduled for mid-2013 and is expected to offer global services for commercial air transport, business aviation and government customers worldwide in 2014. The Inmarsat-4 satellites are expected to continue in commercial operation until about 2020.

Inmarsat owns and operates three global constellations of 11 satellites flying in geosynchronous orbit. Their newest constellation uses Inmarsat-4 satellites to provide broadband access in the 1.6 GHz band to land, sea and air.

  • Broadband Global Area Network is for service on land. It offers commercial L-band (1.6 GHz) service on each of the three I-4 satellites which can digitally form 228 narrow spot beams. BGAN can be accessed by small briefcase size terminals or a handheld iSatphone.
  • FleetBroadband is a maritime service. It is based on BGAN technology. A range of Fleet Broadband user terminals are available, designed for fitting on ships.
  • SwiftBroadband is an aeronautical service. SwiftBroadband is based on BGAN technology and offers similar services. SB terminals are specifically designed for use aboard commercial, private, and military aircraft.

Inmarsat currently has over 12,000 aircraft relying on global in-flight connectivity, and is the most widely used satellite operators. Inmarsat-5 satellite scheduled for mid-2013.

Inmarsat signed a contract with International Launch Services (ILS) for the launch of three Inmarsat-5 satellites, scheduled for launch in 2013-14, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Inmarsat-5 satellites – three state-of-the-art 702HP Ka-band satellites currently being built by Boeing – will form the constellation to support Inmarsat’s forthcoming Global Xpress network. Each Inmarsat-5 satellite will carry 89 Ka-band beams generated by 2 transmit and 4 receive antennas.

Global Xpress will offer seamless global coverage with mobile broadband speeds of up to 50MB/s for users in the government, maritime, enterprise, energy and aeronautical sectors. Inmarsat is investing an estimated amount of US$1.2 billion in the Global Xpress programme, which includes launch costs.

The International Maritime Satellite Organization (Inmarsat), a not-for-profit international organization, was set up in 1979 at the behest of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN body, for the purpose of establishing a satellite communications for the maritime community.

Bob Twiggs and his students at Stanford University developed the first CubeSat. “I got a 4-inch beanie baby box and tacked on some solar cells to see how many would fit on the surface. I had enough voltage for what I needed so I decided that would be the size,” explained Twiggs.

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