SES Leases Large Chunk of Just-launched Satellite to Brazilian Broadcaster

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES on June 4 announced it has sold a large chunk of Ku-band capacity on its just-launched SES-6 satellite to Brazil’s Oi S.A. for direct-to-home television broadcasting, demonstrating why SES and its competitors have made Latin America among their highest market priorities.

Luxembourg-based SES did not detail how many transponders Oi is leasing, nor for how long, but described the deal was a “significant long-term capacity agreement.”

A hint of the size of the contract was on display on the International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket as it lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan on June 3 for mission of 15 hours and 31 minutes;  Oi’s logo was given as much prominence as the SES and ILS images on the rocket’s fairing.

“With SES-6, Oi has access to significant additional satellite capacity at the right time in order to take its pay-TV services to the next level of development,” Oi Chief Operating Officer James Meaney said in a June 4 statement, adding that much of the new capacity will be devoted to high-definition channels.

Built by Astrium Satellites of Europe, SES carries 48 Ku-band and 43 C-band transponders. It will operate from 40.5 degrees west, where it will replace the SES-owned NSS-806 satellite now there. But it is much larger than NSS-806 and will bring the equivalent of 49 new transponders to the slot to offer market expansion for SES in the Americas, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean region.

SES-6 weighed 6,100 kilograms at launch. The ILS Proton rocket and its Breeze-M upper stage dropped the satellite off in supersynchronous transfer orbit, which can offer longer in-orbit life depending on the accuracy of the launch.

For Reston, Va.-based ILS, which commercializes Proton rockets worldwide on behalf of its owner, Proton prime contractor Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, the SES-6 was the fourth liftoff in as many months since returning to flight following an upper-stage anomaly. 

The company has two more launches scheduled by August — the next is SES’s Astra 2E, scheduled for July — as it returns to its long-established role as one of the world’s two major suppliers of commercial launch services along with Europe’s Arianespace consortium.