Inmarsat, the British satellite operator, announced Monday that it had delayed the launch of its Global Xpress satellite, built by Boeing in the U.S., following the failure of the third Russian Proton rocket over the weekend. The delay also forced the company to trim its financial outlook.
Inmarsat, which launched the second satellite for its new Global Xpress service in February, said that a Proton Breeze M rocket carrying the Mexican Government's Centenario satellite encountered “a disabling anomaly” about eight minutes after liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday, resulting in the loss of the satellite and rocket.
According to Inmarsat, the loss of the Mexican satellite means that launches using the Proton rocket have been suspended pending an investigation. The company said that its third Global Xpress satellite, which was scheduled to be launched in early June, is now delayed.
“This is the third time our Global Xpress program has suffered launch delays because of Proton launch failures,” Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said in a statement. “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.”
Inmarsat said that the incident would impact its 2015 revenue and earnings. It also suspended its guidance of an 8 percent to 12 percent compound annual growth rate in wholesale mobile satellite services revenue for 2014-2016.
However, the company, which reportedly has only one Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellite in operation, said that its broader guidance of $500 million of additional revenue from the launch of commercial Global Xpress services within five years will remain unchanged.
“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,” the company said.