Arabsat’s 6th generation satellite to be launched by Arianespace, Astrium, Thales Alenia Space

Three major companies – Arianespace, Astrium and Thales Alenia Space — have inked a new deal for the production and launch of Arabsat’s first 6th generation satellite, Arabsat-6B.

French Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Lohieddin Khoja were at the signing ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The next-generation satellite will be built by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with the Saudi Arabian satcom operator, Arabsat. Thales Alenia Space will provide the payload, while Astrium will supply the Eurostar E3000 platform and will be responsible for satellite integration.

Offering a design life of more than 15 years, Arabsat-6B will weigh approximately 6,100 kg at launch. It will provide telecommunications and TV broadcasting services for the Middle East and Africa.

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall released a statement regarding the new business partnership with Arabsat, saying: “We are especially proud to be working once again with Arabsat, a very prestigious customer with whom we have maintained favored relations since the launch of Arabsat-1A in 1985. I would also like to thank Astrium and Thales Alenia Space for once again placing their trust in us, within the scope of this new turnkey contract.”

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New Proton Rocket Launch Failure to be Investigated by Russia, ILS

The International Launch Services launched the Russian Proton heavy-lift rocket on December 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but it unfortunately failed, delivering Yamal 402 — Gazprom Space System’s telecommunication satellite — into a lower orbit than what is desired. Such incident marks the third failure of the rocket in 16 months.

Engineered by Thales Alenia Space, the Yamal 402 satellite has the capability to boost itself into a greater position, but due to the recent failure of the rocket, it will most likely mean that its operational life will be significantly reduced.

This failure is said to threaten the upcoming launch of the next Satelites Mexicanos launch, which was originally scheduled on December 28. The Satmex 5 satellite, which is anticipated to run out of fuel in May, would be replaced by the Satmex 8. In case the launch of Satmex 8 is late, the customers of Satmex’s might turn to other providers, which will put to danger the already-fragile financial situation of the company.

The ILS said that both a Russian government inquiry board and an independent ILS board will conduct an investigation regarding the rocket launch failure.

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