CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A high-speed broadband spacecraft designed to increase advanced data services to remote maritime and aviation locations lifted off on Monday from America’s Space Coast.
Inmarsat 5 F4 Global Xpress satellite will expand high-speed broadband connectivity across the planet with Ka-Band service. The $240 million spacecraft will soon join a fleet of three fifth-generation telecommunications satellites in geo-stationary orbit.
Built by Boeing in El Segundo, California, the global communications spacecraft has twin solar arrays for a combined 42 meters — longer than that of a Boeing 737 aircraft. Inmarsat is scheduled to operate on orbit for approximately 15 years.
“It’s been a great afternoon and evening out at Kennedy Space Center,” stated John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, minutes following the craft release into space. “We counted down with excellent weather; launched right on time — the first stage did great, the second stage went through two burns just as planned. Now, we’ve topped it off with the separation of Inmarsat 5 F4 for our Inmarsat customer.”
A flawless countdown lead the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 to ignite it’s nine Merlin engines on time, launching from the Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39-A at 7:21 p.m. EDT. The white candlestick soared straight up and into the light blue clear skies before it began to veer toward the eastern horizon.
Ninety-seconds later, the two-stage rocket was rapidly gaining speed and altitude as it passed Mach 1 high above the Atlantic waters.
Spacecraft separation from the rocket’s second stage was met by a thunderous applause in the SpaceX mission control room located in Hawthorne, California, 32 minutes after the rocket leapt from the launch pad.
“We’ve had confirmation of spacecraft separation,” Insprucker relayed at 7:53 p.m. from the Hawthorne center. “We did hear the launch director out at the launch complex 39A.”
Minutes after the separation, Inmarsat confirmed that they could communicate with 5 F4, and that the craft was a good health. It will take the spacecraft nearly three months arrive at its precise location 22,300 miles above the earth.
“From here Inmarsat 5 F4 will be maneuvered to its geostationary orbit, 35,786 km above Earth, where it will deploy its solar arrays and reflectors and undergo intensive payload testing before beginning commercial service,” Inmarsat Corp. stated following the successful launch.
The next launch for SpaceX is planned for June 1 from America’s Spaceport with the 11th Dragon resupply cargo craft bound for the International Space Station. Launch time is schedule for about 6:00 p.m.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)