Inmarsat’s latest geostationary satellite I-6 F2 has made its way towards thermal vacuum testing.
The satellite was made by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage and Portsmouth in the UK prior to final assembly and testing in Toulouse, France. I-6 F2 will be tested thoroughly for several months.
The diameter of the Airbus testing chamber pictured is 10 metres – roughly the same height as a four-storey building – and it is capable of creating temperature extremes from -173 Celsius to 120 Celsius (-279 to 248 Fahrenheit) including rapid cycling and long-duration (30-day) temperature plateaus to simulate the harsh conditions of space.
Satellite is as large as a double decker bus
I-6 F2 is almost as large as a double-decker bus and has a solar array ‘wingspan’ larger than a Boeing 767. The satellite will be launched in Q1 2023 by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. It follows its ‘twin’ I-6 F1, which was launched by MHI in Japan in December 2021.
The I-6 series of satellites are the most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever launched and are operated from 36,000km (~22,500 miles) above the Earth at Inmarsat’s control centre in London, UK.