Thursday, May 18, 2017

We Will Launch on Reuseable Rocket After Exceptional SpaceX Performance – Inmarsat CEO Tells Universe Today

New post on Universe Today

We Will Launch on Reuseable Rocket After Exceptional SpaceX Performance – Inmarsat CEO Tells Universe Today

by Ken Kremer

All 9 Merlin 1D first stage engines firing beautifully as SpaceX Falcon 9 arcs over down range successfully carrying Inmarsat 5F4 #I5F4 to geostationary transfer orbit at twilight after liftoff from Launch Complex 39A on 15 May 2017 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL - Following SpaceX's "exceptional performance" launching an immensely powerful broadband satellite on their maiden mission for Inmarsat this week on a Falcon 9 rocket, the company CEO told Universe Today that Inmarsat was willing to conduct future launches with SpaceX - including on a "reusable rocket in the future!"

"This has obviously been an absolutely exceptional performance from SpaceX, Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce told Universe Today in a post launch interview at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday, May 15 .

The twilight blastoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 communications satellite for commercial High-Speed mobile broadband provider Inmarsat occurred at 7:21 p.m. EDT (or 23:21 UTC) on Monday evening, May 15, from SpaceX's seaside Launch Complex 39A on NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"They hit the ball out of the park with this launch for us," Inmarsat CEO Pearce told me regarding the new space company founded by billionaire CEO Elon Musk.

The never before used 229-foot-tall (70-meter) SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully delivered the gigantic bus sized 6100 kg Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) under brilliant blue and nearly cloudless twilight skies from the Florida Space Coast. Read my launch report here.

The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite is designed to provide high speed broad band service to government, military, maritime and aviation users and ship and airplane customers numbering in the millions to tens of millions of customers now and potentially hundreds of millions of customers in the future.

I asked CEO Pearce; What does the future hold regarding further Inmarsat launches with SpaceX?

"They [SpaceX] have now just gained and earned themselves an immensely loyal customer [from Inmarsat], CEO Pearce replied.

"We will be looking to do further launches with them."

The 7 meter long Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite was deployed approximately 32 minutes after Monday's launch when it will come under the command of the Boeing and Inmarsat satellite operations teams based at the Boeing facility in El Segundo.

Would you consider a used rocket, a previously flown booster?

"I'm sure we will be using a 'reused rocket', Pearce stated. "And we will be launching on a 'reusable rocket' in the future."

"We will be looking to support them in any way we can with their new innovation programs."

The Inmarsat-5 F4 (I-5 F4) will become part of the firms Global Xpress network "which has been delivering seamless, high-speed broadband connectivity across the world since December 2015," says Inmarsat.

"Once in geostationary orbit, the satellite will provide additional capacity for Global Xpress users on land, at sea and in the air."

I-5 F4 was built by Boeing at their satellite operations facility in El Segundo, CA for Inmarsat.

The new satellite will join 3 others already in orbit.

Inmarsat has invested approximately US$1.6 billion in the Global Xpress constellation "to establish the first ever global Ka-band service from a single network operator."

Inmarsat 5 F4 counts as the sixth SpaceX launch of 2017.

And SpaceX is on an absolutely torrid launch pace. Monday's liftoff comes just 2 weeks after the last successful SpaceX Falcon 9 liftoff on May 1 of the super secret NROL-76 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO - as I reported here.

Watch for Ken's continuing onsite launch reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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