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Inmarsat successfully launches Europe in-flight internet satellite

Staff Writer |
Inmarsat confirmed the successful launch of its S-band satellite (Inmarsat S EAN) for the European Aviation Network (EAN) on Thursday.

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The FTSE 250 company said the launch was a "key milestone" for Inmarsat's EAN service, which was on course to commence commercial service in the second half of 2017.

It said the Inmarsat S-band satellite, built by French firm Thales Alenia Space, was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket by Arianespace at 2215 BST on Wednesday from Kourou in French Guiana.

Following satellite separation at 2243 BST, telemetry from the satellite was acquired by Inmarsat's Mingenew Ground Station in Western Australia at 2250 BST.

The launch team from Inmarsat and Thales Alenia Space would now raise the satellite into its geostationary orbit over Europe and the Middle East, at which point the spacecraft would deploy its solar arrays and reflectors, and undergo "rigorous" payload testing.

Inmarsat described EAN as the "world's first dedicated aviation connectivity solution" to integrate space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless WiFi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe.

Its strategic partner, Deutsche Telekom, was said to be "well advanced" in the construction of the complementary ground network, which would be fully integrated with the S-band satellite to deliver a "truly seamless service" for Europe's airlines and their passengers.

British Airways parent International Airlines Group was confirmed as the launch customer for the new service, and had begun equipping its aircraft already, aiming to have 90% of its short-haul fleet complete by early 2019.

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