PARIS — Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Melco) of Japan, in its biggest-ever commercial satellite award, has bested its U.S. and European competitors to win a Turkish government contract to build two telecommunications satellites, Melco announced March 8.
The Turkish Transportation Ministry announced the deal March 7, saying it is valued at $571 million including the satellites’ launches in 2013 and 2014. A launch vehicle selection was not announced.
The long-running competition to build the Turksat 4A and Turksat 4B satellites featured bids by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., and a team composed of Astrium Satellites of Europe and Orbital Sciences of the United States.
Tokyo-based Melco had been considered the outsider despite the company’s stated intention to position its now-proven DS2000 satellite platform as a competitor in the global commercial market. Melco’s first commercial DS2000 contract was for the Superbird 7 satellite, owned by Japan’s Space Communications Corp. Its first export win for the new platform was the ST-2 telecommunications satellite being built for Singapore and Taiwan.
Melco said the Turksat contract will be for the ninth and 10th DS2000 platforms.
One industry official whose company was not in the Turksat competition said the Melco win was aided by an agreement between the Turkish and Japanese governments to work together on future space programs. The Turkish Transportation Ministry made reference to this agreement in its March 7 announcement, but did not detail the envisaged cooperation between Turkey’s planned space agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Turkey’s government-owned Turksat AS satellite operator will use Turksat 4A, to be launched in late 2013, at its core 42 degrees east orbital position. Melco said Turksat 4A would include Ku-band transponders for television broadcasting, and an undisclosed number of C- and Ka-band channels.
Turksat 4B will be launched in early 2014 and will be operated at 50 degrees east, Melco said.