Thales Alenia To Build Turkmenistan’s First Satellite

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PARIS — The government of Turkmenistan has contracted with Thales Alenia Space of Europe to build the nation’s first telecommunications satellite, to be launched in 2014 into an orbital slot controlled by the government of Monaco, the Turkmen government announced.

Negotiations between the Franco-Italian satellite builder and Turkmen authorities on the satellite began several months ago, but it was not until Nov. 18 that the formal satellite construction contract was signed. The Turkmen government announced the contract Nov. 20.

The decision to move forward with the national satellite project follows the creation in early 2011 of a Turkmen space agency, whose mandate includes satellite communications and the operation of the spacecraft from Turkmen territory.

Turkmenistan is expected to send an engineering team to France to learn satellite construction and management techniques. Thales Alenia Space will deliver two ground stations for the satellite in addition to the spacecraft itself. No launch vehicle selection was announced.

The Turkmen Ministry of Communications signed an agreement with Space Systems International-Monaco S.A.M. under which the Turkmen satellite will be stationed at the Monaco-registered 52 degrees east for its 15-year service life. The satellite is expected to weigh about 4,500 kilograms at launch, provide 10 kilowatts of power to the payload and to carry an undetermined number of Ku-band transponders.

Turkmenistan becomes the most recent in a lengthening list of nations that have decided to build their own satellites rather than to continue leasing satellite capacity from established commercial satellite fleet operators.