PARIS — Spanish satellite fleet operator Hispasat has selected Europe’s Arianespace launch services provider to loft the Amazonas 4A and Hispasat AG1 satellites in 2014, industry officials said.
Amazonas 4A is under construction by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and is intended to operate at Hispasat’s 61 degrees west longitude orbital slot over the Americas. Hispasat is one of several commercial satellite operators that are investing heavily in the South American telecommunications market, where demand for satellite bandwidth remains robust.
Amazonas 4A will carry 24 Ku-band transponders and may be light enough to launch aboard a Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Guiana Space Center on the northeast coast of South America.
If the satellite’s weight exceeds the Soyuz limit of slightly more than 3,000 kilograms for launches to geostationary transfer orbit, it will fly as a secondary passenger aboard Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket.
Hispasat AG1 is under construction by OHB AG of Bremen, Germany, and will inaugurate the Small-Geo platform that OHB is developing with financing from the 19-nation European Space Agency, led by the German government, and from Hispasat as the initial customer.
German government officials wanted a made-in-Germany product for the commercial telecommunications satellite market, and Small-Geo is the result. But it turns out that Small-Geo, at least the AG1 model, likely will not be small enough to launch on Soyuz and so will ride as a secondary passenger aboard an Ariane 5 ECA vehicle.
Orbital also is building Hispasat’s Amazonas 4B telecommunications satellite, which like Amazonas 4A is scheduled to operate over South America at 61 degrees west following a launch scheduled for 2015.
Amazonas 4B’s configuration has not been determined and a launcher has not been selected. The satellite may be the first model of a higher-power version of Orbital’s GeoStar platform, which the company has been shopping to potential customers for the past two years to expand its product line.