NEW DELHI — Antrix Corp. of India and Measat Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia will form a joint venture to provide satellite communications services in the Asia-Pacific region in a deal that also calls for Measat to buy a satellite from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the companies said in a joint press release.
The deal, the final terms of which are still being negotiated, represents the largest to date for Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO. Measat, based in Kuala Lumpur, has signed a letter of intent to procure the Measat 4 satellite from ISRO, according to the press release.
The satellite would be launched in first quarter of 2007, the release said. It will be co-located with Measat-1 and the planned Measat-3 satellite at 91.5 degrees east longitude, according to information posted on Measat’s web site.
K.R. Sridhara Murthi, executive director of Antrix, said his company’s proposal calls for Measat 4 to be launched aboard India’s indigenously developed geostationary satellite launch vehicle. Financial terms of the delivery-on-orbit arrangement have not been finalized, he said.
“The satellite will provide additional Ku-band capacity for the Measat fleet, as well as the opportunity for the Indian and Malaysian space communities to work together,” the press release said.
The agreement also calls for ISRO to dedicate capacity aboard its planned Insat 4A and Insat 4B satellites to the joint venture, Sridhara Murthi said in a written response to questions. Those satellites are slated to launch aboard Ariane 5 rockets in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and will operate at 83 degrees and 93.5 degrees east longitude, respectively, ISRO spokesman S. Krishnamurthi said.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart, YAB Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, witnessed the signing of the landmark agreement Dec. 20 here in New Delhi. The press release said the two companies would own the joint venture equally.
“By pooling agreed capacity from these neighboring satellites in the strategically located orbital slots of 93.5 degrees east longitude and 91.5 degrees east longitude , the joint venture will be able to provide C-band satellite services to over 70 percent of the world’s population, and direct-to-home quality Ku-band satellite services to over 160 million TV households across South Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Indo-China,” the press release said.
Measat currently operates two satellites, Measat-1 and Measat-2, that serve Asia’s leading broadcasters, telecommunications providers and direct-to-home TV companies . Measat-3, being built by Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif., and scheduled to launch in mid-2005, will significantly boost the Malaysian company’s capacity.
“We have used Indian space technology on the Measat-1 and Measat-3 programs,” said Y.Bhg. Tun Haji Mohammed Hanif Omar, director of Measat Satellite Systems. “We are pleased to be able to work with ISRO and Antrix on a new satellite which will further our joint interests across the region,” Tun Hanif said in a prepared statement.
Antrix markets ISRO products and services globally, including communications capacity aboard the Insat fleet, satellites and satellite components, and launch services . ISRO has launched four satellites commercially and holds contracts to loft three more over the next two years.