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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Demand for satellite communications in Asia-Pacific will remain strong

Leading satellite communications company Arianespace said that the demand for satcom services will remain strong in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Australia, where it has been doing business since 1987. The Europe-based commercial space transportation company said that business down under has been successful, as it enjoys a 100% success rate in launches, and recently has been working with one of Australia’s leading mobile operators, Optus.

Aside from telecom companies, Arianespace is also in partnership with the Australian satellite specialist NewSat for the Jabiru Satellite Program – a fleet of high-powered Ka band satellites that will deliver increased capacity in select regions across the globe. The first bird, the Jabiru 1, is already slated for a 2014 launch, and NewSat is looking forward to start the commercial operations of the vessel for internet by satellite services, voice and data communications, wireless backhauling solutions, and an array of other VSAT services.

Currently, Australia is looking to roll out its NBN project although many rural areas will be cut-off from the fibre network footprint. NewSat and Arianespace is hoping to target the rural clients through satellite broadband services. The French company also said that Australia continues to be a crucial part of their Asia-Pacific strategy. They’re also looking into promoting green technology by reducing the space debris from satellites being launched into orbit.

However, Arianespace also admitted that it’s been left out the equally lucrative Chinese market, which bans satellites using US components.