KT Sat Picks Thales Alenia over Orbital Sciences for Two-satellite Order

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Satellite builder Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy on May 12 announced it would build two telecommunications satellites for KT Sat, the satellite operating division of KT Corp. of South Korea.

After a long dry spell for Thales Alenia Space in the geostationary-orbiting commercial satellite sector, the company bested a crowded field of competitors that, in the end, came down to a two-way battle with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia.

Orbital and Thales Alenia Space had partnered on the contract to build Koreasat 6, which was launched in 2010.

For Koreasat 7 and Koreasat 5A, the two companies faced a competition in which both had recent satellite-anomaly issues that needed to be explained to KT Sat officials.

The Thales Alenia Space-built Koreasat 5, launched in 2006, suffered a failure of a solar-array drive mechanism that crippled its capacity and resulted in an insurance claim in 2013.

Orbital’s Amazonas 4A, launched in 2013 for Hispasat of Spain, has a problem with a power subsystem that could reduce its broadcasting capability by as much as 50 percent, industry officials said. An insurance claim is expected to be filed within weeks.

Thales Alenia Space and Orbital have specialized in the lighter-weight segment of the geostationary satellite telecommunications market and frequently find themselves in direct competition, even if other satellite builders have shown they can tailor their larger satellite platforms to accommodate smaller payloads.

Koreasat 7 and Koreasat 5A will use Thales Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000B2 satellite platform. Each is expected to weigh about 3,500 kilograms at launch and to provide 7 kilowatts of power to its payload — Ku- and Ka-band for Koreasat 7, Ku-band for Koreasat 5A — at the end of the satellites’ 15-year service lives.

Koreasat 7 is designed to operate at 116 degrees east. Koreasat 5A will operate at 113 degrees east.

Both contracts call for Thales Alenia Space to handle the launch services. The launches are expected to occur in 2017.

 

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