WASHINGTON — Hispasat purchased a satellite from Thales Alenia Space Jan. 10, marking the operator’s first satellite order since being acquired by Spanish power company Red Eléctrica last year.
Thales Alenia Space will build a new satellite called Amazonas Nexus, designed with Ku-band coverage over both American continents, plus Greenland and North Atlantic transportation routes. Hispasat and Thales Alenia Space signed the manufacturing contract in Madrid.
Amazonas Nexus will replace Hispasat’s Amazonas-2, an 11-year-old satellite located at 61-degrees west that provides C- and Ku-band coverage of Pan-America.
Satellite operators have increasingly pushed manufacturers to not build satellites with frozen coverage patterns, but with flexibility to change the location, power and even shape of their communications beams. Hispasat is no exception.
Thales Alenia Space said Amazonas Nexus will feature a new digital transparent processor that will allow Hispasat to reassign the satellite’s capacity as markets change.
Hispasat Chief Executive Miguel Ángel Panduro said Amazonas Nexus will be “the most dynamic and advanced satellite in our fleet” after it launches in the second half of 2022. A launch provider has not been announced.
Amazonas Nexus will have Ka-band feeder links for telemetry and control, a feature Hispasat said will optimize communications with gateway ground stations and free up more onboard capacity for commercial applications.
Amazonas Nexus has a projected mass of 4,500 kilograms, 20 kilowatts of onboard power, all-electric propulsion, and a design life of 15 years. Commercial customers have signed long-term leases for close to 30% of the satellite’s capacity prior to launch, Hispasat said, providing anchor customers to validate the operator’s business plan for the satellite.
Though based in Spain, more than 65% of Hispasat’s revenue comes from the Americas, mainly Latin America. Hispasat, citing research firm Euroconsult, said demand for geostationary data capacity is expected to grow fivefold in “the American continent” over the next 10 years. Amazonas Nexus is designed to capitalize on that projected growth, particularly for broadband to aircraft, ships and government end users.
Hispasat and Thales Alenia Space said they will make extensive use of Spanish suppliers in building the Amazonas Nexus satellite. Hispasat regularly involves Spanish subcontractors to build equipment for its satellites, such as Sener, GMV, and Indra. The operator has its own policy of geographic industrial return that it says has resulted in more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of investment by international satellite manufacturers into Spain.