SES Bullish on European Hosted-Payload Market

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Satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg, which for years has been trying to build a government portfolio in Europe along the lines of what its Americom Government Services division has done in the United States, thinks it is about to hit pay dirt.

Philippe Glaesener, general manager for governments and institutions at SES Astra, the company’s European operating division, said governments in Europe in recent months have shown increasing interest in placing their payloads on Astra satellites or otherwise using the Astra fleet.

SES Astra in March won its first hosted-payload business, a contract with the European Commission to carry an L-band navigation terminal aboard the Sirius 5 satellite SES plans to launch in late 2011.

In a Nov. 3 press briefing, Glaesener said similar government missions are likely to be decided in the coming months. He did not specify the payloads, but at least two government hosted-payload contracts are likely to be awarded in 2010. The European Commission is seeking a second commercial geostationary-orbiting satellite for a similar navigation payload, and the European Space Agency is looking for a commercial operator to host laser-optical data-relay terminals on two satellites to speed delivery of Earth observation satellite data to ground users.

“There are three or four relatively large deals with governments or institutions for long-term contracts” for which SES Astra will be competing, Glaesener said.