First Global Xpress satellite passes testing milestone

The first Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellite has passed a significant testing milestone in the run-up to the launch of Global Xpress.

The fully-assembled spacecraft, one of three that will comprise Inmarsat’s new Ka-band broadband network, successfully completed mechanical testing at manufacturer Boeing’s space division in California, US.

The tests included a simulated launch, which was designed to expose the spacecraft to the environmental conditions it will be subjected to during blast-off.

Test cycle
"This is a very important and significant milestone in the construction and test cycle of the spacecraft as we progress with the test programme and move forward to launch day," said Franco Carnevale, Inmarsat's Vice-President for Satellite and Launch Vehicles.

"Exposing the satellite to the realities of the launch experience allows us to know with confidence that it can withstand the real thing."

During the testing process, a powerful shaker was deployed to simulate the vibrations induced by the rocket’s engine thrust and its cut-off at separation stage.

Acoustic blast
In a concrete-reinforced chamber, the spacecraft was blasted with acoustic waves, much like those that will buffet the rocket and its payload during lift-off.

All mechanical parts on the satellite were then deployed and checked. The I-5 passed every one of the extremely demanding tests.

The satellite will now move to the next phase, where it will be subjected to the conditions and large temperature variations it will experience in orbit for more than 15 years.

The first I-5 satellite is scheduled to launch at the end of 2013.

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