Ariane 5. Credit: Arianespace

PARIS — Indonesia’s Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) has contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build the BRISat C- and Ku-band telecommunications satellite to be launched in 2016 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket, BRI announced April 28.

Evry, France-based Arianespace said it expects BRISat to weigh about 3,500 kilograms at launch — a fairly small satellite that in recent years has not been a core focus of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral or Arianespace. Both companies have focused on larger spacecraft.

Industry officials have said that 2014 is likely to be a year in which smaller geostationary telecommunications satellites outnumber larger ones in terms of firm satellite orders. BRISat is one of these.

Arianespace’s ability to collect orders for lighter satellites is critical to the company’s operations. The business model for the heavy-lift Ariane 5 calls for two satellites to be launched together. For every large satellite weighing 6,000 kilograms or more, Arianespace needs to find a smaller satellite to share the launch.

But these smaller satellites — and midsize ones as well — are the core commercial target market for Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, which has already begun to eat into Arianespace’s business.

BRISat is to operate at 150.5 degrees east and will link thousands of bank branches scattered over Indonesia’s islands.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witnessed the April 28 contract signing ceremony in Jakarta.

Follow Peter on Twitter: @pbdes

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.