Orbital Lands Palapa E Satellite Contract

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UPDATED May 8, 8:14 a.m. EDT

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Indosat of Indonesia has selected Orbital Sciences Corp. to build the mixed C- and Ku-band Palapa-E telecommunications satellite to be launched in 2016 into Indonesia’s 150.5 degrees east longitude orbital slot, industry officials said May 7.

The contract has been in negotiations for nearly two years and was delayed in part because one or more Indosat shareholders wanted to delay the capital investment. Palapa-E will replace the Palapa-C2 satellite, which was launched in 1996 and is already past its expected service retirement date.

In response to SpaceNews inquiries, Orbital spokesman Barron Beneski on May 7 issued the following statement:

“Orbital has a signed contractual agreement to start production of long lead items for the Palapa E satellite for Indosat. We are currently in the early phases to finalize the spacecraft configuration with the customer. 

“We are delighted to have been selected by the customer, Indosat, and we intend to support their plans to add the Palapa E to its fleet at 150.5E.”

Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson told an investor conference call on April 23 that the company, and the market in general, was going through a dry spell for commercial geostationary-orbiting telecommunications satellites.

Thompson said Orbital had three bids under evaluation at the time and was targeting three commercial satellite contracts in 2013.