Mitsubishi Electric Co. (Melco) is positioning its DS-2000 satellite platform to the commercial market as a relatively low-cost bus that will win business based on price and not on being ITAR-free, Melco Deputy General Manager Toru Yonuki said.
ITAR-free satellites are those that do not contain U.S.-built parts subject to export controls under the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations. ITAR-controlled components are barred, for example, from being shipped to China for launch on low-cost Long March rockets.
In the last several years Melco has penetrated the open commercial satellite telecommunications market with contract wins in Australia and Singapore and, more recently, a two-satellite order with the Turkish government.
The company is designing the DS-2000 to be compatible with the Falcon 9 rocket under development by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., whose first commercial launch to geostationary orbit is scheduled for 2013.
SpaceX is pitching Falcon 9 as a much lower-cost alternative to U.S. and European rockets, with prices that are below some of those recently quoted for launches aboard the Chinese Long March rocket.
Yonuki said Melco is seeing increased demand for satellite communications on the part of nations that up to now have not had their own satellites but are concerned that they need to secure a slot on the geostationary arc.
“Most regional operators don’t care about ITAR-free,” Yonuki said. “They care about price.”