Orbital To Build, SpaceX To Launch, Thaicom 8

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Thaicom of Thailand has selected Orbital Sciences Corp. to build the all-Ku-band Thaicom 8 satellite, which will be launched in 2016 aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket, Thaicom said.

In an April 29 filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Thaicom said the satellite and launch service will cost a combined $178.5 million, to which an insurance premium will be added at a later date, when the policy is secured.

With its choice of Orbital and SpaceX, Thaicom is returning to the same contracting configuration that built and launched the Thaicom 6 satellite in January.

Thaicom was the second commercial geostationary satellite operator to use the SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1. SpaceX has been advertising prices of $60 million or less per launch of geostationary-orbiting satellites.

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Thaicom had selected Dulles, Va.-based Orbital to build Thaicom 8 in 2013 but did not confirm the contract until a meeting of the company’s board of directors April 29.

Thaicom said Thaicom 8 is expected to weigh 3,100 kilograms at launch and to carry 24 Ku-band transponders. Demand for Ku-band satellite capacity is rising in Thailand, South Asia and Africa, Thaicom said, which along with the need to replace retiring in-orbit spacecraft justifies the Thaicom 8 investment.

 

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