Arianespace to Launch ABS-2, ST-2 Satellites

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LE BOURGET, France — Hong Kong-based satellite operator Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) will launch its second satellite, ABS-2, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2012 and has contracted with Space Systems/Loral for the satellite’s construction, Arianespace, ABS and Loral announced.

Arianespace also announced it will launch the ST-2 satellite, owned by a Singapore-Chinese joint venture called ST-2 Satellite Ventures, in mid-2011 aboard an Ariane 5. ST-2 is being built by Mitsubishi Electric Co. of Tokyo. ST-2 Satellite Ventures is co-owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and Chunghwa Telecom Co.

ABS-2, which will provide nearly 14 kilowatts of on-board power to its payload, will be co-located with the current ABS-1 spacecraft at 75 degrees east longitude and will carry a C-, Ku- and Ka-band payload totaling 78 transponders using eight different beams, ABS said. The satellite is expected to weigh more than 6,000 kilograms at launch.

ABS-1, formerly owned by Lockheed Martin and called LMI-1, was launched in September 1999 and has a contractual 15-year service life. But ABS officials say the satellite, which carries 44 transponders, has enough fuel remaining to operate at full commercial capacity well beyond 2020.

Industry officials said the ABS-2 program will require substantial outside funding and that ABS will seek Arianespace and Space Systems/Loral support for bank-loan guarantees from the French Coface and U.S. Export-Import Bank export-credit agencies. ABS spokeswoman Penny Hill confirmed that this is “one of the sources that we are exploring” to help finance the project.

Evry, France-based Arianespace said the two new orders bring to 10 the number of commercial telecommunications satellite contracts it has signed in 2009. Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall said here June 16 during the Paris Air Show that Arianespace’s current backlog is 35 telecommunications satellites to be launched into geostationary transfer orbit.