Intelsat and Azercosmos Partnering on New Satellite at 45 East

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operators Intelsat of Washington and Luxembourg and Azercosmos of Azerbaijan on Feb. 17 said they would jointly build and launch a telecommunications satellite to operate from 45 degrees east starting in 2017.

The satellite will replace the aging Intelsat 12 satellite now at that slot and extend Azercosmos’ reach beyond its current 46 degrees east post, where its first satellite, Azerspace-1, was launched in February 2013.

The deal is the latest joint development allowing two ostensibly competing fleet operators to join forces to reduce the capital expenditure required to inaugurate or maintain a presence at a given orbital locale.

Azercosmos, which is owned by the Azeri government, struck a similar arrangement with Measat of Malaysia to build Azerspace-1, which Measat calls Africasat-1a. The two companies divide the payload and associated satellite development costs.

Azercosmos main satellite ground control station in Baku, Azerbaijan. Credit: Azercosmos
Azercosmos main satellite ground control station in Baku, Azerbaijan. Credit: Azercosmos

Intelsat 12, which when launched was called EuropeStar-1 before a succession of acquisitions put it into Intelsat’s fleet, was launched in 2000 and is expected to be operational to 2018.

Azercosmos has been among the more active of the emerging-market space agencies created in recent years. In addition to Azerspace-1 with Measat, the agency in late 2014 purchased the recently launched Spot 7 optical Earth observation satellite owned by Airbus Defence and Space.

“With our second telecommunications satellite, we will be in a stronger position to meet the increasing demand for broadcast and media applications,” Azercosmos Chairman Rashad Nabiyev said in a statement.

Intelsat Deputy Chief Executive Stephen Spengler said the partnership with Azercosmos “will enable us to create additional capacity by leveraging our existing assets and maximizing the value of our orbital rights” for service in Central and Eastern Europe, the Asia Pacific and portions of Africa.