Mission success: Inmarsat’s EAN satellite is orbital

The EAN satellite is go. Catch up with everything that happened on launch night when the Ariane 5 rocket took it into orbit

The evening of Wednesday 28 June was a rather special night at  Inmarsat HQ, as we waited with bated breath for the final countdown. When the numbers hit zero, we watched the ignition fire underneath the engines of the mighty 780-ton Ariane 5 and witnessed over 1,300 tons of thrust roar into action. The rocket would go on to hit over 25,000mph, burning through 300 kilos of fuel a second, as it pulled away from Earth’s gravity.

 

Inmarsat’s S-Band EAN satellite was officially on its way to Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). EAN is the world’s first dedicated aviation solution to combine connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a complementary LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom. EAN will soon be live, providing high-speed broadband to short-haul flights above Europe.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “The European Aviation Network is a fundamental part of Inmarsat’s commitment to revolutionise the inflight broadband experience offered by airlines. For too long, millions of passengers have been cut off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband during flights in Europe. Those days are almost over as we introduce a new gold standard in the market, which will leapfrog outdated solutions in other parts of the world and place Europe at the very forefront of connectivity innovation".
 
“We are delighted that the Inmarsat-S EAN satellite has been successfully launched. This is a significant milestone for Inmarsat and the many leading European companies that are involved in the project, including Deutsche Telekom, Thales Alenia Space, Arianespace, Cobham SATCOM, Nokia, OTE and others. 

It was quite the launch night. If you missed it or want to relive it, keep reading. This is everything that happened on the night that our satellite safely reached orbit.

First up, here’s our satellite – weighing in at around 5.8 tons it’s the size of a large bus. It was loaded into the rocket six days ahead of launch

We were all set for launch night. But first, let’s look at some stats. We compared our Ariane 5 to a popular commercial airliner…

And here are some fascinating facts about Ariane 5 launches…

That in mind, the launch approached..

Finally, lift-off!

Partnership and integration is at the heart of EAN. It was a great moment to celebrate alongside some of our partners

Successful launch, CONFIRMED

And we got closer to bringing ground-breaking Wi-Fi to the skies of Europe

We now need to wait until the satellite is fully operational. The launch team from Inmarsat and Thales Alenia Space will raise the satellite into its geostationary orbit over Europe and the Middle East, at which point the spacecraft will deploy its solar arrays and reflectors, and undergo rigorous payload testing.

When fully operational, according to Inmarsat’s Frederik van Essen, we will be able to provide Europe with “around seven and half times the bandwidth currently supplied in the US” letting Europe “leapfrog the US” in terms of inflight broadband technology.

This launch marks the start of a new era, says Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President, International Wholesale Business Unit at Deutsche Telekom: “Broadband internet in the skies over Europe. It has been and still is an incredible journey, but thanks to all the people involved and especially our partner Inmarsat, it is finally going to become a reality.”

It’s still a short while until EAN goes live for passengers but this launch takes us one giant step closer.