PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems on Dec. 20 announced it has signed a $1 billion contract with the Mexican government to provide three satellites — two for mobile communications and one for conventional fixed services — in a deal whose consequences for Mexican satellite operator Satmex were not immediately apparent.

As prime contractor for the Mexsat system, Boeing will build the two large L-band mobile communications spacecraft and will purchase a smaller fixed-services satellite from Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. This C- and Ku-band satellite, called Mexsat 3, will be the first to enter service and will be ready for launch by late 2012.

Orbital spokesman Barron Beneski said Dec. 20 that the satellite will provide 3.5 kilowatts of power to its payload of 12 C- and 12 Ku-band transponders and be located at 114.9 degrees west longitude. Beneski confirmed that Orbital intends to build the satellite in time for a 2012 launch.

Boeing said the Mexsat 1 and Mexsat 2 satellites will use Boeing’s 702HP satellite frame and feature 22-meter-diameter deployable L-band reflector antennas for mobile communications, in addition to 2-meter Ku-band antennas. Each satellite will generate 14 kilowatts of power.

The Mexsat order has been the subject of industry speculation for several months as a possible indication of what the government intends to do with Satmex.

In a statement, Boeing said the Orbital-built Mexsat 3 satellite “will provide full coverage of Mexico and its patrimonial seas and relay civil communications for socioeconomic development.” That is partly Satmex’s role now with its own satellites.

The company, which has been through U.S. and Mexican bankruptcy procedures, continues to struggle to find cash to support a badly needed fleet replenishment. The company’s bond holders rejected a buyout offer from EchoStar Communications of Englewood, Colo., but have since not disclosed what their strategy is to take Satmex forward.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.