WASHINGTON — Arianespace will launch the Arsat-1 satellite for Argentine satellite operator Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima, or Arsat, in mid-2012 under a contract announced June 28 by the Evry, France-based launch services provider.

Arsat-1, expected to weigh 2,900 kilograms at launch, will be lofted from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana either as a co-passenger aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket or as the sole payload aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The satellite is under construction by Invap of Argentina, with Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, both of Europe, as major equipment suppliers, Arianespace said in a press release. It will be equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders of various types and provide services including telephone and television transmissions across Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

“We are very pleased with our selection of Arianespace to launch the first geostationary satellite built in Argentina,” Pablo Tognetti, chairman and chief executive of Arsat, said in a prepared statement. “Our selection is the result of an international bid, in which price, excellence in space transportation and mission success ratios were critical in our decision.”

Meanwhile, an Ariane 5 rocket successfully launched a pair of satellites, one for South Korea and one for the Arabsat organization of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 26 from the Guiana Space Center.

Arabsat’s Arabsat-5A satellite weighed nearly 5,000 kilograms at launch and will provide television broadcasting and other telecommunications services from the 30.5 degrees east longitude orbital slot. The satellite was built by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, with the latter supplying the payload, and is designed to operate for 15 years.

South Korea’s multipurpose Communications, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite (COMS) weighed 2,460 kilograms at launch and will provide ocean surveillance, weather observation and communications services from the 128.2 degrees east orbital slot overlooking the Korean peninsula. It was built by Astrium Satellites in cooperation with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.

The launch was the second of the year for the Ariane 5, the 51st overall for the vehicle and the 37th straight success, Arianespace said. The launch took place after three days of delay due, in at least one instance, to unspecified technical concerns with a system on the launcher.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...