Alcatel Space and Space Systems/Loral (SSL) have won contracts to build three more communications satellites.

The larger of the deals will see SS/L build two high-power SS/L 1300 spacecraft, bus-based communications satellites for the US-based XTAR and Spain's Hidesat. XTAR is a Hidesat/Loral joint venture.

The XTAR EUR satellite will be launched in 2003, offering the services of 12 wideband X-band transponders from a position in geostationary orbit (GEO) over the Indian Ocean.

Hidesat's SpainSat will offer services from 12 X-band and one Ku-band transponder from a GEO orbit at 30íW in 2004. Hidesat and XTAR EUR will lease transponders to the Spanish defence ministry, and defence customers in the USA and allied countries.

Meanwhile, Alcatel Space has been awarded a $118 million contract to build a new communications satellite for APT Satellite, Hong Kong. Dubbed Apstar VB, the Alcatel Spacebus 4000 model spacecraft will be launched in 2004, probably by a Chinese Long March booster which has featured in previous APT launches.

The craft will be equipped with 38 Ku-band and 12 C-band transponders. Apstar VB is a substitute satellite for the Apstar VA which is being built by SS/L but grounded due to export licence issues. ApStar V is manifested for a 2003 launch aboard a Long March 3B - it is due to replace the VB Apstar 1A, which reaches the end of its predicted lifetime in 2006.

In a further satellite development, the Alcatel Space-built Arabsat 3A communications satellite launched in February 1999 has hit problems in orbit, with the loss of some of its 20 transponders after a power-switching panel failure.

Source: Flight International