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Boeing’s Inmarsat-5 Subcontractor Team Focused on Efficiency, Security

By | May 12, 2011
      [Satellite TODAY Insider 05-12-11] Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems has contracted another hardware developer for technology integration on three of the manufacturer’s Inmarsat-5 constellation satellites. L-3 Electron Technologies (L-3 ETI) was selected by Boeing to provide its Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) for the three 702HP Ka-band spacecraft to enable reliable orbit insertion and to extend the constellation’s mission life, L-3 ETI announced May 11.
      The XIPS systems also will perform all the north/south and east/west station keeping functions throughout the life of the Inmarsat mission. L-3’s XIPS hardware has been leveraged on 136 engines currently flying on various spacecraft platforms, including NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which is scheduled to rendezvous with the asteroid Vesta in July 2011 and the Ceres asteroid in 2015.
                   In August, Inmarsat invested more than $1 billion in Boeing to build the spacecraft that will be used to launch the mobile satellite provider’s Global Xpress service, which will target what the operator views as a $1.4 billion incremental market opportunity in VSAT services for maritime, energy and government sectors, with further growth potential in developing markets such as the aeronautical sector.
                  As part of the prime contractor award, Boeing agreed to act as a distribution partner for both Inmarsat’s Ka-band and L-band services and has pre-committed to capacity purchases representing more than 10 percent of Inmarsat’s target Ka-band revenues in the first five years after global service launch. Operations are expected to start in 2014.
                  Since the initial contract award, Boeing has issued Inmarsat-5 subcontracts to MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ (MDA), Harris Corp. and Saft for complementary hardware focused on power efficiency and security for government customers.
      In April, MDA’s U.S. operation signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Boeing to provide advanced technology solutions to help 702HP satellites provide high-power communications for military and commercial satellite customers through 2012.
      Harris Corp. was selected by Boeing in March to build the Ka-band antennas for the three-satellite constellation, which will provide the backbone for Global Xpress. The Harris antennas will be designed to direct 95 Ka-band beams to Earth to provide high-capacity global coverage and adapt to changing usage patterns during the projected 15-year operation of the satellites. The company said the antennas would be based on Harris’ Gimbal Dish Antenna systems to enable beams to be steered to accommodate user demands.
                  Boeing also extended its five-year agreement with battery manufacturer Saft to deliver 12 battery packs of high-energy Li-ion batteries for the Inmarsat-5 series. Saft’s rechargeable batteries will offer 15kW of onboard power for up to 18 years of battery life.

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