Inmarsat Launch Delayed

Artist illustration of Inmarsat 4. Image credit: Inmarsat. Click to enlarge.
The launch Inmarsat-4 F2, one of the largest and most powerful communications satellites ever built has been reschedule for Tuesday 8 November.

The six-tonne UK-built craft is due to be lofted by a Zenit-3SL rocket from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. It should have flown on Saturday but a software glitch led to an automated halt in the countdown sequence. Flight controllers say they are now happy to go for a Tuesday launch after investigating the technical problem.

Lift-off is now scheduled at the opening of a 29-minute window at 1407 GMT. Inmarsat-4 F2 is the second of three satellites designed to improve global communications systems.

The first satellite, which covers most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Indian Ocean, was launched from Cape Canaveral in March. The second will improve and extend communications across South America, most of North America, the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Pacific Ocean.

The two satellites will support the London-based sat-com Inmarsat company’s global broadband network, BGan.

Their onboard technology is designed to allow people to set up virtual offices anywhere around the world via high-speed broadband connections and new 3G phone technology. The spacecraft, each the size of a London bus, should continue functioning for about 15 years. They were built largely at the EADS-Astrium facilities in Stevenage and Portsmouth, UK.

The Inmarsat-4 F2 is going up from waters close to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) on the equator.

It is using the innovative Sea Launch system, which employs a converted oil drilling platform as a launch pad. It is towed into position from its California base.

Original Source: BNSC News Release