Workers at Airbus in Portsmouth likely to play 'major role' in construction of three new Inmarsat satellites

WORKERS at Airbus in Portsmouth look set to play a ‘major role’ in the construction of three new satellites, a firm spokesman has said.

An artist's impression of one of the OneSat satellites deployed in space. Picture: Airbus Defence and Space
An artist's impression of one of the OneSat satellites deployed in space. Picture: Airbus Defence and Space

It comes after the company today announced it secured a deal to build a trio of devices for British telecommunications firm Inmarsat. 

The GX7, 8 and 9 will be the first satellites based on Airbus' new OneSat line and will be fully reconfigurable in orbit. 

They will provide broadband connectivity to remote users, including those on aircraft, ships and oil rigs. 

Inside the Airbus Defence and Space facility at Hilsea, in Portsmouth. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150394-7)

On the role workers at Airbus Defence and Space in Hilsea will play in the contract, spokesman Jeremy Close said: ‘We’re working that out. We’re pretty hopeful they will play a major role.’ 

Mr Close said it is ‘premature’ to link the deal with the estimated 30 employees who left Airbus in Portsmouth after it was announced the high-profile Galileo satellite contract would move to the EU after Brexit. 

However, he said: ‘This is certainly a very positive step in maintaining jobs in Portsmouth.’ 

He added: ‘It’s very good news for Portsmouth which secures its place in the space industry.’ 

The three Inmarsat satellites will feature on board processors and active antennae, enabling them to adjust their coverage, capacity and frequency in orbit. 

Airbus’ head of space systems, Nicolas Chamussy, said: ‘We are launching the OneSat product line for our customer Inmarsat, following the successes of the Airbus-built Inmarsat-4 spacecraft, Alphasat and the Inmarsat-6 satellites, which are currently under construction.

‘This latest contract continues the long standing innovation relationship between Airbus and Inmarsat.

‘OneSat is a truly disruptive product, both from a manufacturing, and operational point of view, which allows Airbus to offer our customer a market enabling solution with reduced cost and time to orbit.’ 

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said the satellites could be ready to deploy in 2023. 

Nor Airbus or Inmarsat is revealing the price of the contract.