Inmarsat has selected Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to launch Inmarsat-6 F1, the first satellite of its Inmarsat-6 fleet.

Currently under development by Airbus Defence and Space, the satellite is due to be launched by 2020 onboard MHI’s H-IIA rocket.

With the new agreement, MHI aims to support a wide range of space industry customers worldwide.

Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce said: “Inmarsat is continually seeking to extend and diversify its ecosystem of partners, particularly in the strategically important area of launch providers.

“We believe that MHI and its H-IIA launch vehicle offers a world-class service.”

Representing Inmarsat’s sixth-generation satellite fleet, the Inmarsat-6 will feature dual-payload satellites, each of which will support L-band and Ka-band services.

“We believe that MHI and its H-IIA launch vehicle offers a world-class service.”

When launched, the entire fleet will support a new generation of L-band capabilities starting from advanced global safety services and low-cost mobile services to internet of things (IoT) applications.

The fleet’s Ka-band payload is also expected to improve the capacity of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) constellation, which began services in 2015.

Inmarsat is yet to make a decision on the launch partner for its second I-6 satellite.

MHI Space Systems vice-president and senior general manager Masahiro Atsumi said: “We hope to build a strong and lasting relationship with them, and to provide further launch services using our latest H3 rocket in future.”

MHI and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are currently developing the H3 Launch Vehicle, which is set to succeed the H-IIA rocket and expected to make its first flight in 2020.

Image: Contract signing between Inmarsat and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries representatives. Photo: courtesy of Inmarsat.