FARNBOROUGH, England — Satellite services provider Aniara SpaceCom LLC of India and the United States on July 15 said it has contracted with Russian/German satellite builder Dauria Aerospace to launch two all-electric Ku-band telecommunications satellites together on an Indian Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, or GSLV, rocket in late 2017.
The contract, valued at $210 million and signed at the Farnborough Air Show here in the presence of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, is based on a direct loan from Russia’s export-credit agency, the Export Insurance Agency of Russia (ExIAR), following what Aniara said are bandwidth-lease contracts from Indian and Southeast Asian customers.
In an interview here, Aniara Chief Executive Raghu Das declined to name the prospective customers, whose commitments will be necessary to trigger the ExIAR financing. He said the two satellites, each carrying 12-16 Ku-band transponders, would be used to complement in-orbit satellites that are not using the full potential of their orbital slot and frequency licenses.
Dauria Aerospace, headquartered in Munich and with a production facility in Skolkovo, Russia, in the past year has launched three small Earth observation satellites for maritime surveillance. These satellites were developed by Canopus Systems of Mountain View, California, a Dauria affiliate.
Wei Sun, Dauria’s managing director and a veteran of small-satellite builder Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain and Germany’s OHB AG, said the NextStar-1 and NextStar-2 geostationary-orbiting satellites to be built for Aniara will use all-electric propulsion, lowering their launch weight and permitting a dual-stacked launch aboard the newest variant of India’s GSLV.
Sun said Dauria and Aniara are developing a smaller version, with an Indian rocket, of the model pioneered by satellite operatorsof Bermuda and Satmex of Mexico, now named Americas, and satellite builder Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California. Boeing is building four all-electric satellites for ABS and Eutelsat Americas, to be launched in pairs aboard Space Exploration Technology Corp. Falcon 9 rockets.
Sun said bringing down the weight of the NextStar satellites so that two could be launched aboard the same GSLV rocket was key to the business plan.
Each satellite will deliver 3 kilowatts of power to its 300-kilogram electronics payload. The company is targeting a satellite service life of between 10 and 15 years.
Roscosmos Deputy Director Denis Lyskov, in a July 15 statement, said the agency “supports the emergence of new private players in the field, which can contribute to the increase of export potential in the sector. We are ready to support companies like Dauria Aerospace in the national market and beyond.”
Lyskov said Dauria is currently under contract to Roscosmos to build two small Earth observation satellites, called MKA-N.
India’s GLSV Mark 2 rocket, designed to launch payloads into geostationary-transfer orbit, conducted its first successful flight, using an Indian-built upper-stage engine, in January. Its main design goal is to provide launches for India’s domestic market, including telecommunications satellites for the Indian Space Research Organisation and its Antrix commercial arm.
It remains unclear what launch rate the GSLV will be able to maintain in the next couple of years, and what its availability will be for commercial customers.
Ras said the Dauria platform “represents a terrific opportunity for ISRO to expand its commercialized use of its GSLV.” Aniara has offices in Bangalore, India — home to a large ISRO installation — and in Princeton, New Jersey.
Correction: An earlier version had the incorrect photograph of Mr. Das.