Indian satellite communications company Agrani Satellite Services has signed a deal with Alcatel Space to supply ageostationary communications satellite.

The deal, first proposed a year ago by Agrani, involves supply of the satellite, which has already been built, and ground infrastructure. The satellite will be launched by an Ariane 5 within 18 months. It was originally made for Thailand's Shinawatra as a ground spare for its Thiacom-3 satellite, but the contract was cancelled due to poor market conditions.

As part of the agreement, Alcatel will acquire 8.75% of Agrani for $15 million, while Arianespace will purchase 4.25% for $5 million.

The deal marks the end of a long-running saga for Agrani. Hughes (now Boeing) was originally selected in the mid-1990s to build a pair of communications spacecraft for the system, but in 1996 Hughes said the project backers could not finance it further. Lockheed Martin was then contracted, but US export sanctions, imposed following India's 1998 nuclear tests, prevented the release of an export licence.

Source: Flight International