Claimed to deliver broadband speeds 100 times faster than the previous generation, Immarsat’s Global Xpress satellites should be able to provide connectivity just about anywhere—even in the most inaccessible and remote regions of Earth. The fifth-generation satellites, built by Boeing, will mobilize the first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service delivered through a single network operator. The new Gx network, which operates in the Ka-band, will complement Inmarsat’s existing L-band fleet to deliver seamless broadband services at download speeds up to 50 Mb/s and uplink speeds up to 5 Mb/s.
The Gx fleet features a combination of 89 fixed narrow spot beams (generated by two transmit and two receive apertures) that provide high speed through compact terminals, as well as six steerable beams that can add capacity in real-time when needed. Each satellite has a mission lifespan of 15 years and uses five panels of ultra-triple junction gallium arsenide solar cells to generate 15 kW of power at the start of service (13.8 kW by the end of life). A xenon ion propulsion system (XIPS) handles all in-orbit maneuvering.
The first Gx satellite was launched in December 2013. The recently delivered second satellite will launch in February 2015, with the third scheduled for launch by the second half of the year. A fourth satellite is set to deliver in late 2016. The network targets users in the aviation, maritime, enterprise, and government markets with a need for reliable, high-throughput communications.