SES orders four satellites from Astrium

By Robert Briel
November 30, 2009 12.45 UK

SES and Astrium, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS, has announced the order for four multi-mission satellites from Astrium to provide replacement as well as incremental capacity for its SES Astra and SES World Skies divisions.

The new satellites, to be designated Astra 2E, Astra 2F, Astra 2G and Astra 5B, will allow the release of the existing satellites at two orbital positions (28.2 and 31.5 degrees East) and add new capacity, as well as fleet deployment flexibility for the SES group over the coming years. The satellites are scheduled for launch in several steps between 2012 and 2014. The design life of each satellite is 15 years.

“This important investment in new satellite capacity will enhance the prominence of SES ASTRA’s 28.2 degrees East position, mainly for the UK and Irish markets, and improve coverage of Eastern Europe from 31.5 degrees East,” said Romain Bausch, president and CEO of SES, in a statement.

“It will also allow SES World Skies to extend its offer to the African and Middle Eastern markets. By adding significant flexibility and improved functionality, these new satellites will allow SES to further drive its DTH, DTT, enterprise and broadband businesses while consolidating space assets and strengthening the international reach of the group. Also, we are pleased to be working again with Astrium. SES has appreciated the quality of their products and their customer dedication in recent and ongoing contracts, and this is exactly what we are looking for in this multi-satellite contract.”

The four new satellites will be built on a Eurostar E3000 platform, the latest version of Astrium’s Eurostar series which has proven to be highly reliable in commercial service. A total of 60 Eurostar satellites have been ordered to date. SES has already ordered three Eurostar E3000s: ASTRA 1M, which entered into service one year ago; ASTRA 3B, ready for launch early next year; and ASTRA 1N, which was ordered last year and is currently under construction.

“Astrium is extremely proud to have been selected by the world’s premier satellite operator, and I would like to profoundly thank SES for their confidence. Following a rigorous selection process among the world’s leading satellite manufacturers, Astrium demonstrated that it offered the best solutions for SES. The decision to order four satellites in a single contract increases Astrium’s long-term standing as a market leader in satellite production. I would also like to express my gratitude to the teams on both sides of the table for their outstanding professionalism, which ultimately made it possible to sign one of the biggest contracts for telecommunications satellites in the world,” said Astrium CEO François Auque.

Three of the new spacecraft, Astra 2E, 2F and 2G, will serve to deliver next generation broadcast, VSAT and broadband services in Europe and Africa, and will carry Ku-and Ka-band payloads at 28.2 degrees East.

The three new satellites will also include replacement and new capacity for the SES World Skies division, serving the African and the Middle Eastern markets with Ku-and Ka-band capacity. The new capacity will provide continuity of service and expansion opportunities for customers that are today already using the Astra 2B steerable beam over West Africa, as well as for new customers

Astra 5B will be deployed at the orbital position 31.5 degrees East, extending transponder capacity and geographical reach over Eastern European and neighbouring markets.