Arabsat Boosting Ka-band Capacity at Core Orbital Slot

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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.