Korean telecommunications provider KT Corp. has sold its aging Koreasat-3 telecommunications satellite to Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) of Hong Kong less than a year after selling ABS the Koreasat-2, KT Corp. and ABS announced May 24.

The satellite, to be named ABS-7 following U.S. regulatory approval of the sale, currently operates at 116 degrees east in geostationary orbit. KT has scheduled the launch of Koreasat-6, under construction by Thales Alenia Space of France and Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., for late this year aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. KT Corp. has said Koreasat-6 will replace Koreasat-3, a Lockheed Martin A2100 model spacecraft that was launched in September 1999 for a scheduled 12 years of in-orbit service.

ABS said Koreasat-3 has sufficient fuel to continue station-kept operations — meaning it will maintain its three-axis stabilization — for “an estimated six or seven years.” The satellite could then be put into inclined orbit, in which it would save fuel by no longer maintaining its north-south stabilization, to operate for an additional five or six years, ABS said.

Operated by ABS, Koreasat-3/ABS-7 “will provide significant high powered Ku-band and Ka-band capacities to meet ABS’s customer demands for cellular backhaul, [Very Small Aperture Terminal] services, satellite broadband and US/NATO government requirements in the Middle East region,” ABS said.

ABS moved the Koreasat-2 satellite, now named ABS-1A, to the ABS slot at 75 degrees east. But Koreasat-3/ABS-7 apparently will be kept at the 116 degrees east slot, where KT Corp. will continue to provide satellite tracking and control under the agreement between the two companies.

In a May 24 statement, Sung Man Kim, KT Corp. senior executive vice president, said the satellite will also serve as a backup for Koreasat-6.