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Inmarsat satellite launch halted by rocket failure

Proton Breeze M rocket suffers a fault at launch centre.

By Alexander Sword

Inmarsat‘s launch of its third Global Xpress satellite has been delayed after the preceding rocket launch failed.

The launch of the Proton Breeze M rocket, carrying a Centenario satellite at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday, suffered a "disabling anomaly" resulting in both being destroyed.

The I-5 F3 was scheduled to be launched afterwards but has now been postponed as a Russian State Commission and ILS, Inmarsat’s launch partner, investigate the reasons for the failure.

Inmarsat’s share price dipped slightly on the news, with Inmarsat revealing in a statement that the delay is expected to have a "small negative effect on 2015 revenue and earnings."

When I-5 F3 is launched, the three Global Xpress satellites should provide global broadband coverage.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, speaking about the planned ILS launch of Inmarsat-5 F3, said: "This incident involving a failed Proton launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome is extremely unfortunate and will inevitably delay our launch plans for our third Global Xpress satellite.

"This is the third time our Global Xpress programme has suffered launch delays because of Proton launch failures. Although in the past, Proton has returned to flight within a few months of a launch failure, it will not be possible to determine the length of the delay in the launch of I-5 F3 until the cause of the Centenario launch failure is established.

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"Customers are understandably anxious to see the delivery of GX services on a global basis, and as soon as we have sufficient information to ascertain the new launch date for I-5 F3, we will make the information public, as well as comment further on the impact of the delayed launch of I-5 F3.

"Meanwhile, we are pleased by the strong interest in GX services across many customer constituencies and buoyed by early revenues from I-5 F1, which is in service over EMEA and Asia, and by the successful delivery of I-5 F2 into orbit over the Americas.

"We are also reassured that I-5 F4 is currently under construction by Boeing in California, and remains on schedule for completion in mid-2016, with a potential SpaceX launch in the second half of 2016, providing us with significant mission assurance in the case of any protracted delays in Proton’s return to flight, or a failed launch of I-5 F3."

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