The first Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellite has now passed two major test stages in preparation for the launch of Global Xpress.
One of three in Inmarsat’s new Ka-band broadband network – the satellite has been subjected to extensive mechanical and thermal tests at manufacturer Boeing’s Satellite Space Systems International (BSSI) in El-Segundo, California, US.
The tests were designed to prove its ability to survive being blasted into space and to cope with the harsh thermal environment of geosynchronous orbit.
“The satellite has now passed the mechanical and thermal testing with flying colours and is on schedule to be completed in early November – ready for shipment to the launch site,” said Franco Carnevale, Inmarsat's Vice-President for Satellite and Launch Vehicles.
Vibration and acoustic tests included a simulated launch and a powerful shaker that replicated the vibrations induced by the rocket’s engine thrust and its cut-off at separation stage.
Thermal vacuum testing also confirmed the integrity of the satellite’s temperature control system and its ability to regulate the spacecraft through the extremes of heat and cold it will experience in space during its anticipated 15-year operational life.
Franco said: “The satellite has now successfully undergone all key electrical, mechanical and thermal test programmes and we are on the home stretch.
“All that is missing now is the integration of solar arrays, deployable radiators and deployable antennas before configuring the spacecraft for flight after a final electrical check.”
He added: “As with any new satellite constellation, the tests conducted on the first spacecraft are key to confirming the capabilities of the design and technologies being deployed across the entire fleet.
“With these tests behind us, we are more confident than ever that the second and third satellites in the Global Xpress fleet will have completed assembly and testing in less than a year’s time.’’
The first I-5 satellite is currently scheduled to launch at the end of 2013.