GX “remains on schedule” despite sanctions

Inmarsat has moved to allay fears that fresh US sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis could derail its launch schedule for Global Xpress, with two launches currently planned to take place with International Launch Services (ILS) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan during 2014.

In an April 28 statement outlining a tightening of sanctions against Russia, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki had said that the US would be expanding its export restrictions on technologies and services regulated under the US Munitions List (USML), which includes certain types of satellite technologies.

“Effective immediately, the Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) will deny pending applications for export or re-export of any high technology defense articles or services regulated under the US Munitions List to Russia or occupied Crimea that contribute to Russia’s military capabilities,” the statement said.

“In addition, the Department is taking actions to revoke any existing export licenses which meet these conditions. All other pending applications and existing licenses will receive a case-by-case evaluation to determine their contribution to Russia’s military capabilities.”

Some reports had suggested that this could be seen to apply to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellites, which would see them prevented from being launched from Kazakhstan as planned.

However, Inmarsat has told Digital Ship that such reports are “pure speculation”, and that it is aware of the US statement and the specific circumstances it applies to.

The company added that it “remains on course to launch its second and third Global Xpress satellites by the close of the year.”

Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat’s senior vice president for External Affairs, also told news agency Reuters that the Satellite Industry Association in the US had advised Inmarsat that the sanctions on launches that “(contribute) to Russia’s military capabilities” would not apply to the Global Xpress satellites.

Uncertainty over the impact of these fresh sanctions had caused nervousness in the stock market, with Inmarsat’s share price dropping approximately 10 per cent, from 766.00p at 8.50am to a low of 687.50p at 12.20pm, on April 29 following the announcement.

However, clarification of the situation by Inmarsat seems to have set minds at ease somewhat, with the share price having recovered to 739.50p at the time of writing on April 30.

Source: The Digital Ship