Saudi Arabian fleet operator Arabsat has ordered its first fully software-defined geostationary satellite to provide flexible coverage across the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.
Despite all the investment in low Earth orbit broadband megaconstellations, operators of geostationary satellites argue they can offer more cost-effective services.
Companies that operate both geostationary satellites and low Earth orbit constellations say they see opportunities to acquire complementary firms but cautioned that a long-projected consolidation of the industry isn’t likely in the near future.
Lockheed Martin says it lost $410 million on the first three commercial satellites built on its new LM2100 platform, including the JCSAT-17 satellite Arianespace launched Feb. 18 on an Ariane 5 rocket.
SpaceX completed its second launch of 60 Starlink satellites Nov. 11, making its own system the largest commercial telecommunications satellite constellation in orbit.
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SpaceX sent the Arabsat-6A communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit April 11, completing the Falcon Heavy rocket’s first commercial launch.
Arabsat chose SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to launch its newest satellite in order to give the satellite a longer lifespan, Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s chief executive, said in an interview with SpaceNews.
European launch provider Arianespace completed the first Ariane 5 mission of the year Feb. 5, lofting two telecom satellites into geostationary transfer orbits.
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SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch with a commercial satellite is scheduled to occur around the end of the year, according to customer Arabsat.
European launch provider Arianespace carried three customer payloads to orbit June 28 through the launch of two satellites, one for India and another that is split between fleet operators Inmarsat and Hellas Sat.
Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket on Nov. 10 successfully placed telecommunications for Arabsat of Saudi Arabia and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the vehicle’s sixth and final launch for 2015 and its 69th consecutive success.
The company says the new digital processor provides on-orbit flexibility including the ability to reconfigure the payload and change frequencies to defeat jamming threats.
The Saudi Arabian government’s two-satellite purchase order with Lockheed Martin is the latest in a series of international satellite contracts where the buyer insists on help creating a domestic satellite industry.
Satellite fleet operator Arabsat of Saudi Arabia on April 28 said it had entered into contracts valued at $650 million with satellite builder Lockheed Martin Space Systems and launch provider Arianespace for the construction of two satellites and the launch of one of them in 2018.
Satellite fleet operator Arabsat of Saudi Arabia has selected Lockheed Martin Space Systems to build two telecommunications satellites following an international competition, industry officials said.