Following the launch of its Alphasat I-4A F4 satellite on July 25, UK-based satellite operator, Inmarsat, said that the satellite had achieved the “major milestone” of deploying its wing-like solar arrays, allowing it to draw power from the sun.
The new satellite, which will provide additional L-band mobile satellite communications capacity over Europe, the Middle East and Africa, reached geosynchronous orbit on Friday, Inmarsat said.
The four-panel solar array, which spans almost 40 metres (131 feet), will generate more than 12kW of power.
Alphasat has been under the remote control of Inmarsat’s Mission Operations Team in Toulouse, France, since the first telemetry signal was acquired at the Inmarsat ground station in Beijing, just 20 minutes after the launch by Ariane 5 from French Guiana on 25 July.
The critical task of boosting the satellite into geosynchronous orbit required firing the spacecraft’s powerful liquid apogee engine four times, with each burn using the equivalent of 60 tanks of car fuel.
Alphasat joins Inmarsat’s I-4 satellite fleet, which has been powering global broadband connectivity for government and commercial customers in the L-band since 2009.
“Alphasat will strengthen our existing I-4 satellite constellation, providing coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat.
“The launch demonstrates Inmarsat’s long-term commitment to L-band services, and marks a significant milestone in the evolution of our flagship satellite fleet, bringing new capabilities both in terms of performance and resource availability,” he added.