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NASA selects satellite-based space launch tracking and command systems from Inmarsat

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Inmarsat Government, Inc. as a delivery partner for its Communications Services Project (CSP). Under the Funded Space Act Agreement (FSAA), NASA will partner with Inmarsat Government to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of providing commercial satellite communications (satcom) capabilities as a service for future spacecraft users in near-Earth orbit.

Inmarsat Government will demonstrate with NASA a variety of space-based applications, enabled by Inmarsat’s ELERA worldwide L-band network, which will include capabilities for Launch Support, Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), Low Data Rate Routine Missions and Contingency Mission Operations communications. This builds on the organization’s world-renowned satellite network and leading capabilities providing satcom as a service and more to its customers in the United States.

NASA selected Inmarsat Government to develop and demonstrate capabilities to prove that Inmarsat’s satellite communications services can meet a range of NASA mission needs and establish a mutually beneficial relationship based on public-private collaboration. This collaboration will also develop new models that the agency can use to acquire commercial services for meeting its future needs, along with other potential service users. NASA has determined that a commercial approach could be instrumental in ensuring long-term mission support, as the legacy NASA-owned-and-operated Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system will be decommissioned in the coming years.

Susan Miller, CEO of Inmarsat Government said “At Inmarsat, we take pride in being a pioneering, customer-driven, technology leading company and our team is honored to support NASA in this vital project for many of its future major missions. The unique capabilities, long life and resilience of Inmarsat’s L-band ELERA network, combined with the company’s strong spectrum position and the global coverage of its satellite networks, enable us to serve the needs of the agency well. We look forward to partnering with NASA to demonstrate reliable, flexible and cost-effective satellite communications as a service for spacecraft users in near-Earth orbit.”

Inmarsat Government will demonstrate the following specific capabilities:

  • For launch support: The ELERA-powered InRange capability provides rapid, responsive and cost-effective launch telemetry from space, removing the need to construct and maintain costly ground-based launch infrastructure. InRange alleviates the requirement for a large network of down range ground stations to maintain telemetry coverage and helps to remove “black-out” phases that exist with terrestrial coverage of launches when switching from one ground station to the next.

  • For LEOP and Mission Operations Services: The ELERA-powered InCommand resilient capability that enables commanding and telemetry on-demand for space assets operating below geostationary orbit. By providing real-time connectivity for space relay in support of low and medium earth orbit satellites, InCommand delivers a highly efficient, cost-effective and time-critical space-based solution for any LEO satellite by removing the dependency on ground infrastructure.

Inmarsat Government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications and is an awardee under under Phase 2 of NASA’s CSP.

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