Looking toward determining and developing the payload for AlphaSat, Inmarsat submitted a bid before the March 26 deadline.
If successful (a contract award is expected in July), Inmarsat would use the payload to deliver voice, broadband and data services around the globe. The company is likely to face competition from Eutelsat for the European Space Agency (ESA) project; Eutelsat had not responded to queries by the time of printing.
AlphaSat is expected to launch in 2011.
AlphaSat being an ESA project, Inmarsat had to secure public funding for its proposal; while providing some funding itself, the operator has gained the backing of three regional development agencies in the U.K.: the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), and the London Development Agency (LDA). The operator has also received support from the British National Space Center.
Outlining the LDA’s interest in AlphaSat, a spokesman explained “the LDA is backing this project because: it will help place London and the UK at the forefront of the communications technology space race, it will safeguard 100 jobs in the capital, and it will provide over 600 million [British] pounds ($1.18 billion) of inward investment. This is a competitive pitch, between Inmarsat and a leading French technology firm. We are pleased to be supporting a London company in its push to win this bid. The project will construct and launch a satellite, which will provide state-of-the-art communications technology for its users.”
He continued that “the primary benefit will be that it will enable mobile, Internet, fax and e-mail services to be used remotely, i.e., without the requirement of the presence of a mobile telephone mast. This is of particular benefit in emergencies and disasters, as well as [to] private technology users. It is not just overseas where this would have an application. For example, it could be used when mobile phone systems collapse - as happened in London [on July 7, 2005]. And lots of London-based companies have operations overseas, or on the high seas - an area where Inmarsat has developed satellite-based navigation systems.”