PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Arabsat has modified an existing contract with European satellite builders to add substantially more Ka-band at Arabsat’s core 26 degrees east orbital slot, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat said.

The contract modification with Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space of Europe was concluded in December and formally announced at a ceremony Jan. 19 in Riyadh in the presence of Saudi and French political figures.

Arabsat Chief Executive Khalid Balkheyour said in a Jan. 19 statement that the new Badr-7 program, including a launch aboard Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA rocket, is valued at more than $400 million. 

The redesigned satellite will use Astrium’s Eurostar 3000 satellite frame with a payload built by Thales Alenia Space. Badr-7 is designed to provide 12 kilowatts of power to its payload, which in the new version includes 24 Ku-band transponders, 24 Ka-band spot beams and three Ka-band transponders.

The satellite is expected to weigh 6,100 kilograms at launch, with the launch scheduled for the second half of 2015.

Arabsat, due to a contract it signed to provide Iran capacity on an Arabsat satellite at the 26-degree slot, is facing a possible frequency conflict with Eutelsat of Paris over broadcast rights. Eutelsat is planning a satellite launch in mid-2013 that will force one or both fleet operators to shut down part of their planned emissions or find a compromise on what frequencies will be used by Eutelsat, and what frequencies will be allotted to Iran, via the Arabsat satellite.

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