Eutelsat-Qatar Firm Taps Loral for Satellite

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PARIS — Space Systems/Loral will build a mixed Ku- and Ka-band telecommunications satellite for fleet operator Eutelsat and the government of Qatar under a contract the companies announced July 15.

The satellite, to be launched in early 2013, will be stationed at Eutelsat’s 25.5 degrees east orbital slot to provide services throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

The program is being funded jointly by Paris-based Eutelsat and ictQatar, a Qatari government organization. It is the first time that Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral has been selected to build a satellite for Eutelsat, which is the world’s third-largest fixed satellite services fleet operator. Eutelsat in the past has favored European satellite builders.

Eutelsat and ictQatar are dividing the cost of building, launching and insuring the satellite. Eutelsat had already planned a smaller spacecraft to continue development of the 25.5 degrees east orbital slot. With ictQatar now on board, the two companies are ordering a larger spacecraft, but the July 15 announcement did not detail the size or power of the payload.

“This is an important step forward as we work to meet the rapidly growing communications needs in the region,” ictQATAR Secretary General Hessa Al Jaber said in a statement. “The collaboration between ictQATAR and Eutelsat on this strategic satellite is already proving advantageous as both teams were able to bring complementary insight and expertise to the decision-making process. In selecting Space Systems/Loral we followed a fair and transparent process.”