AsiaSat Orders Two Satellites from Loral

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong contracted with Space Systems/Loral Nov. 11 to purchase two telecommunications satellites, both to be ready for launch in 2014, under contracts with a combined value of $233 million.

Both satellites will use Palo Alto, Calif.-based Loral’s SSL 1300 satellite platform and will expand AsiaSat’s capacity for its markets in Asia, the Middle East and Oceana.

AsiaSat 6 will carry 28 high-power C-band transponders. The contract is valued at $114.5 million but could rise to $120.4 million if AsiaSat elects to fit the spacecraft with plasma-electric propulsion for its on-board station keeping, AsiaSat said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Such a decision likely would reduce the satellite’s weight at launch by reducing the amount of conventional fuel that would be needed to maintain itself stably in orbit over its 15-year life. AsiaSat’s contract includes an option to build a satellite similar to AsiaSat 6 for $117 million.

AsiaSat 8 will carry 24 Ku-band transponders as well as a Ka-band beam under a contract valued at $118.5 million. Here, too, AsiaSat is reserving the right to replace at least part of the conventional on-board propulsion with plasma-electric units. If it selects this alternative, the contract price will rise to $124.4 million.

AsiaSat has purchased an option to build a second AsiaSat 8 satellite for $122 million.

Both contracts include orbital incentive clauses under which 10 percent of the contract value will be paid only if the satellites function as expected in orbit over 15 years.

The awards bring to six the number of firm satellite orders that Loral has booked in 2011. While these are not the kind of large, high-powered spacecraft that Loral views as its core capability, the new orders bring Loral’s contract harvest to the range the company must book each year for optimal use of its factory. Loral is almost exclusively a provider of commercial telecommunications satellites.