Hispasat Picks Ariane 5 To Launch Amazonas 3

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PARIS — Europe’s Arianespace consortium will launch Spanish satellite fleet operator Hispasat’s Amazonas 3 tri-band telecommunications satellite aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket in late 2012 or early 2013 under a contract Arianespace and Hispasat announced Sept. 7.

Amazonas 3, under construction by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., will replace the Amazonas 1 satellite now stationed at Hispasat’s 61 degrees west orbital slot, where it provides telecommunications in the Americas and between Latin America and Europe. Amazonas 1 was launched in 2004 with an expected 15-year operational life, but a defect in its fuel system has cut its life expectancy by several years.

Given the growing importance of the Americas, especially Central and South America, to Hispasat — the region provided 44 percent of its total 2010 revenue of $214.6 million — the company was forced to order Amazonas 3 sooner than originally expected.

Madrid-based Hispasat also operates the Amazonas 2 satellite at the 61 degrees west slot. Amazonas 2 was launched in October 2009 and is expected to operate for at least 15 years. Amazonas 1 and Amazonas 2 were both built by Astrium Satellites of Europe.

Amazonas 3, based on Loral’s 1300 satellite platform, is expected to weigh 6,000 kilograms at launch. It will be equipped with 33 Ku-band transponders, 19 C-band transponders and nine Ka-band spot beams. Hispasat said Amazonas 3 will be the first satellite over Latin America providing substantial Ka-band capacity for broadband Internet connections.

Hispasat is financing Loral’s construction of Amazonas 3 through a loan from JPMorgan Chase that was valued at 165 million euros ($236 million) and guaranteed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Hispasat said it will be repaying the loan over 10 years.