PARIS — U.S. satellite video and data broadcaster EchoStar Corp. announced Nov. 26 it has signed a multiyear agreement with Europe’s Arianespace consortium for the launch of an undetermined number of satellites aboard heavy-lift Ariane 5 rockets.
Englewood, Colo.-based EchoStar in recent years has been a regular customer of International Launch Services (ILS) of Reston, Va., which markets Russia’s Proton vehicle. EchoStar has been one of the few large satellite fleet operators that have been absent from Arianespace’s manifest.
EchoStar’s most recent launch, of its EchoStar 16 satellite Nov. 21, was aboard an ILS Proton from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch was a success.
EchoStar operates its own satellites and operates spacecraft for its sister company, direct-broadcast television provider Dish Network, also of Englewood. EchoStar also leases capacity aboard satellites operated by SES of Luxembourg and Telesat of Canada.
Most EchoStar satellites are large, high-power spacecraft. The company’s purchase in 2011 of Hughes Communications of Germantown, Md., made it the largest satellite-broadband provider in the United States.
With that purchase came a pre-existing contract between Hughes and Evry, France-based Arianespace for the launch of the large EchoStar 17 Ka-band broadband satellite. EchoStar 17 was launched aboard an Ariane 5 in July.
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 generally lifts two telecommunications satellites at a time into geostationary transfer orbit. Its competitors, ILS and Sea Launch AG of Bern, Switzerland, launch satellites singly into the same orbit.
EchoStar has not said it expects to expand its satellite fleet, but Anders Johnson, president of EchoStar Satellite Services, said in a Nov. 26 statement announcing the Arianespace multilaunch contract that EchoStar will look to Ariane 5 “to deliver on-time success in the execution of our near-term expansion programs.”