Falcon 9 set to launch Inmarsat satellite for in flight wifi ,broadband
Florida, May15:A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arrived at launch pad 39A on Florida’s Space Coast on Sunday, a day before liftoff with a powerhouse Inmarsat communications satellite designed to spread broadband beams connecting airline passengers, maritime crews and U.S. and international military units with Internet and data services.
The new satellite will join the $1.6 billion Global Xpress broadband network developed by Inmarsat, a London-based company originally established to provide emergency communications to ships at sea that is now expanding its service into the airborne connectivity market.
“It’s for passenger connectivity, so it’s wifi services for passengers for web browsing, email, video downloads and uploads,” said Michele Franci, Inmarsat’s chief technology officer. “On ships, our biggest market today is in merchant shipping, and there it will provide a combination of operational services and crew welfare.”
Three Global Xpress satellites are already in orbit providing global broadband for mobile customers, and the fourth one set for launch by SpaceX on Monday is the next step in expanding the service.
“We’ve always said that Global Xpress, with the first three Inmarsat 5 satellites, provides global coverage, but it’s a relatively thin layer, and then we would start going deep where needed, as needed, as market requirements push forward or user patterns change,” Franci said in an interview with Spaceflight Now. “This satellite we’re launching Monday will start providing some of that.
“It’s not designed as a local augmentation, but it nevertheless does bring significant additional capacity, and thanks to the fact that we have steerable beams on it, we can create this effect of concentrating capacity in particular areas of the world where needed,” Franci said.
The Boeing-made Inmarsat 5 F4 communications craft, valued by itself at up to $250 million, will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard a 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 booster at 2321 GMT (7:21 p.m. EDT) Monday, the opening of a 49-minute launch window.
Forecasters from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predict an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions at launch time, with the only concerns being cumulus clouds near the Atlantic coastline and anvil clouds blowing toward the spaceport from inland storms.
SpaceX ground crews transferred the fully-assembled rocket from a hangar at the southern perimeter of pad 39A up the incline to the historic launch complex Sunday. Engineers from Boeing’s satellite control center in El Segundo, California, planned to finalize checks on the Inmarsat satellite Sunday night and verify the spacecraft’s readiness for launch.
Technicians were expected to hoist the two-stage rocket vertical at pad 39A with hydraulic lifts overnight, with final countdown preparations on tap Monday morning.