Inmarsat wins ESA space satellite contract

£360m boost for UK comms

Inmarsat is to build the UK's space satellite programme, with financial backing from three regional development agencies.

UK satellite operator Inmarsat has won a European Space Agency (ESA) contract to develop Europe's space satellite programme.

The £360m project is backed by £36m in financial support from the East of England Development Agency, London Development Agency, and South East England Development Agency.

The new satellite, Alphasat I-XL, is claimed to be the most technically advanced satellite in the world for civilian applications. It will have a next generation digital processor and drive mechanism developed by Astrium UK with support from the British National Space Centre, which coordinates the UK's civil space programme.

Alphasat I-XL will support a new generation of mobile technologies and enable communications across Europe and Africa.

The contract win will bring economic benefits and retain more than 500 technology jobs in the south east of England during the development and operation of the satellite, said the South East England Development Agency.

It is also expected to maintain and develop a high level of skilled labour in the region and generate revenues for London-based Inmarsat, through subscriptions to satellite services. The projected flow of revenue into the region as a result of this win is estimated at £250m.

Commenting on the award, South East England Development Agency chair Jim Brathwaite said: "The Alphasat project is a great coup for the Greater South East, building upon the region's growth in the UK and making our country a bigger player within the global space industry.

"This collaboration between the three regional development agencies in the South East shows just how effective we can be in generating investment, business jobs, and success for UK plc. I am confident that this will be the first of many such ventures."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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