PARIS — Satellite manufacturers Thales Alenia Space of Europe and ISS Reshetnev of Russia signed an agreement Nov. 18 intended to lead to a joint venture to build commercial telecommunications satellites, Thales Alenia Space announced.

The agreement, signed in Moscow in the presence of the French and Russian prime ministers, calls for the joint venture to “jointly develop, produce and integrate new communications satellite platforms offering more than 12 kilowatts of power, as well as components and subassemblies for satellite platforms and payloads,” the Franco-Italian company said in a statement.

Cannes, France-based Thales Alenia Space and Krasnoyarsk-based Reshetnev have cooperated for several years on more than a dozen satellite programs. The typical collaboration has found Thales Alenia Space building an electronics payload for a Reshetnev platform.

Reshetnev has recently raised its profile by taking part in non-Russian telecommunications satellite competitions, occasionally against Thales Alenia Space.

The Russian satellite telecommunications market is expected to grow in the coming years as the nation’s two principal satellite fleet operators, Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) and Gazprom Space Systems, expand their fleets in response to commercial and government demand.

The two operators have themselves struck agreements with Europe’s two biggest satellite fleet operators. RSCC has teamed with Eutelsat of Paris, and SES of Luxembourg has joint forces with Gazprom.

On the satellite manufacturing side, Astrium Satellites of Europe has made inroads in the Russian market, most recently teaming with Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow to build a large telecommunications satellite for RSCC.

Thales Alenia Space officials in the past have said they are seeking to offset the high value of the euro against the U.S. dollar by teaming for certain commercial satellite competitions with a manufacturer whose costs are not in euros.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.