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23 Nov 07: Inmarsat has signed a multi-million pound contract with Astrium for the Alphasat satellite to augment its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service. Alphasat will be one of the world’s largest telecommunications satellites and the Inmarsat expects its investment in the satellite – excluding
insurance – will be in the region of €260m. Alphasat will provide increased capacity able to handle more than 750 channels in L band with improved quality particularly for satellite phone users. Astrium is prime contractor for the satellite with the key technology of the satellite payload to be designed and manufactured by Astrium in the UK.

The Alphasat contract is supported by ESA, BNSC, and financial support for the
public/private finance bid from the South East England Development Agency
(SEEDA), the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the London
Development Agency (LDA).

The new satellite, Alphasat I-XL, will support a new generation of mobile
technologies and enable communications across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East – creating new business opportunities for UK companies.

The I-XL will, through increased efficiency of spectrum use, enable:
• robust communications in crisis and disaster emergencies;
• potential connection of houses, schools and businesses in remote locations, via Inmarsat BGAN portable data terminals;
• governments to connect with dispersed populations;
• essential voice and data communications for a wide range of industry sectors such as media, maritime, oil and gas.

The project will bring significant economic and social benefits to the UK, including creating and retaining over 500 high technology jobs within the Greater South East region during the development and operation of the satellite. It will further maintain and develop a high level of skilled labour in the region and generate revenues for London-based Inmarsat, through subscriptions to satellite services.

Andrew Sukawaty, CEO Inmarsat said: “Alphasat will enable us to offer improved services through greater capacity, better quality communications and faster download times to existing and future Inmarsat customers. And with the key technology on the satellite developed and manufactured in the UK – it again proves that Britain is at the forefront of the new space race.”

Colin Paynter Managing Director of Astrium said: “Alphasat will be a showcase of the UK capability in the areas of satellite mobile payloads and on-board processing. It will build on the already significant existing experience on the Inmarsat 4 series of satellites to confirm Astrium’s position as a world leader for satellite communications technology.“

Ian Pearson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: “State-of-the-art satellite technology developed and manufactured in Britain combined with the world’s leading provider of satellite communications, London-based Inmarsat, proves that the UK is at the forefront of the satellite telecommunications revolution – and is setting the standards for the commercial use of space.”

In addition to the Inmarsat geomobile mission, the payload capacity on Alphasat will be used to support the development of innovative payloads. The three Technology Demonstration Payloads (TDPs) selected for flight on Alphasat are:
– An advanced Laser Communication Terminal to demonstrate GEO to LEO communication links at 1064nm
– A Q-V Band communications experiment to assess the feasibility of these bands for future commercial applications
– An advanced Star Tracker with active pixel detector. The Alphasat satellite will utilise the protoflight model of the Alphabus platform, currently under development by the European space industry. Alphasat will feature a new generation digital signal processor for the payload, and a 12-metre aperture antenna reflector. The spacecraft will have a launch mass of about 6,000kg at launch

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