AsiaSat Selects ILS Proton For AsiaSat 7

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat has selected an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket to place the AsiaSat 7 telecommunications satellite into orbit between August 2011 and November 2011 under a contract valued at $101 million, Hong Kong-based AsiaSat and ILS announced Oct. 5.

AsiaSat 7, under construction by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., was originally called AsiaSat 5C and was intended as a backup in case AsiaSat 5 failed early in its life. That satellite is healthy in orbit.

AsiaSat 7 will now be used to replace the AsiaSat 3S satellite at 105.5 degrees east longitude. Launched in March 1999, AsiaSat 3S carries 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders. It was 70 percent full as of June 30, AsiaSat said in an Oct. 5 submission to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

AsiaSat said its agreement with Sea Launch Co. of Long Beach, Calif., for the launch of an unnamed AsiaSat satellite between 2012 and 2014 will be maintained, but used for a future spacecraft. Sea Launch, which is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, is scheduled to return to flight in late 2011.

AsiaSat said it made a $14.6 million down payment to Reston, Va.-based ILS. The rest of the launch fee will be paid out in regular increments, with the last due a month after launch. The contract carries a termination fee of $48.5 million.

AsiaSat said ILS has guaranteed that in the event of a launch failure, AsiaSat will be able to secure another ILS Proton launch at a price of between $107 million and $110 million.