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Inmarsat has launched the first of its Global Xpress satellites - Inmarsat-5 F1 - into space, bringing high-quality in-flight broadband services a step closer.

The mobile satellite communications provider launched the satellite onboard a Proton Breeze M rocket, which set off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Inmarsat-5 F1 is part of a $1.6 billion (£1 billion) investment by Inmarsat in the next generation of global communications technology - as the firm targets universal super-fast broadband coverage.

By the end of next year, the firm aims to have three high throughput satellites offering global Ka-band coverage from a single operator.

According to Inmarsat, this should offer up to 50Mb broadband services to mobile or fixed terminals.

Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive of Inmarsat, said the successful launch of the first Inmarsat-5 satellite is "a major landmark" on the company's journey to deliver the globally-available, high-speed mobile broadband. 

"We are on schedule to achieve full global coverage by the end of 2014," he claimed.

“The Inmarsat-5 generation is, by some distance, the fastest satellite development programme in our history."

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