WASHINGTON — Fleet operator Arabsat of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, announced Aug. 18 it ordered a geostationary communications satellite from Airbus Defence and Space.

Arabsat said it plans to spend $300 million on the manufacture, launch, insurance and ground infrastructure for the satellite, called Badr-8. 

The satellite is expected to launch in 2023 to provide C- and Ku-band coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Arabsat, which operates a fleet of seven satellites, said it will position Badr-8 at its 26 degrees East orbital slot. 

Airbus Defence and Space will build the satellite using Eurostar Neo, an all-electric platform designed with support from the French, British and European space agencies.

All-electric satellites move slower than their chemically-propelled counterparts, but require less volume for fuel, leaving more room for revenue-generating payloads. 

Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat president and chief executive, said Badr-8 will carry “massive satellite transponders for satellite TV broadcasting, satellite telecommunications and information exchanging services.”

Airbus said the 4,500-kilogram, 17-kilowatt satellite should take four to five months to reach geostationary orbit, depending on the launch vehicle Arabsat selects.

Badr-8 will also carry an experimental photonics feeder link from Airbus called Teleo to demonstrate optical communications that Airbus says will be “highly robust” against signal jammers. 

Airbus is designing Badr-8 for a design life that exceeds 15 years, the company said. 

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...