Thaicom Leases SES Sat To Keep Orbital Slot

by

PARIS — Thaicom of Thailand is leasing an in-orbit telecommunications satellite from SES of Luxembourg to preserve its right, and that of the Thai government, to the 50.5 degrees east orbital position, industry officials said.

The satellite is expected to be moved into the Thai orbital slot in the coming weeks, in advance of an international regulatory deadline late this year.

SES has two spacecraft in the area. One, Astra 1F, spent much of its operational life as a direct-broadcast television spacecraft over Europe before being moved over Asia. It is now nearing retirement and as of Sept. 1 was stationed at 55 degrees east. SES also operates the newer, larger NSS-12 satellite, which was launched in 2009 and operates at 57 degrees east.

SES and Thaicom officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the deal.

For Thaicom, the SES transaction is the second time in less than a year that the company has been able to salvage orbital-slot rights. In December, Thaicom and AsiaSat of Hong Kong agreed to divide the use of the AsiaSat 6 satellite, set for launch in 2014, and to operate it at 120 degrees east, a slot that, like 50.5 degrees, was otherwise at risk of slipping away from Thailand and Thaicom.

Governments filing for access to satellite slots and broadcast frequencies with the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union generally have a certain number of years before they must occupy the slot and the associated frequencies.

Exceptions are often made, especially if a good-faith effort to build and launch a satellite is met with delays unrelated to financing such as a satellite system failure at the manufacturer, or a launch failure.