PARIS — The French-Italian Sicral 2 military telecommunications satellite will be placed into geostationary orbit as a co-passenger on Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA rocket in late 2013 under a contract thecommercial launch consortium announced Dec. 6.
Sicral 2, expected to weigh about 4,400 kilograms at launch, will carry separate French and Italian SHF and UHF communications payloads to be used independently by French and Italian forces. It will operate at 37 degrees east.
Sicral 2 will also back up existing satellite bandwidth provided by France and Italy to the 28-nation NATO alliance under a long-term contract shared with Paradigm Secure Communications of Britain.
Telespazio of Rome will be Arianespace’s customer for the Sicral 2 launch. Under a May contract with the French and Italian defense ministries, Telespazio was given responsibility for securing the launch, as well as overseeing early-orbit maneuvers and the Sicral 2 ground |segment.
The Sicral 2 contract is valued at 295 million euros ($398 million). Of that amount, 193 million euros is for construction of the satellite and design of the ground communications network by, with the remaining 102 million euros going to Telespazio.
For Evry, France-based Arianespace, winning the contract was especially important because Italian officials had gone outside of Europe, to the U.S.-based Sea Launch Co. commercial launch company, for the launch of Italy’s Sicral 1B satellite in 2009.