Europe will launch an innovative telecoms satellite in 2012 to provide mobile users with high-speed data and voice communications in remote parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Backed with up to €225m (£195m) from the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB), the €600m (£519m) joint European Space Agency and Inmarsat satellite will be the first to use a next generation satellite "bus" developed by the European Space Agency and the French agency CNES.
Alphasat will be "open access" for research organisations. It will initially house four applications developed by several European universities, industry and space organisations for aeronautical, land and maritime research.
The EIB is loaning Inmarsat up to €225m toward the estimated €598m total cost of the project. ESA is contributing about €230m through the Alphabus platform.