SES Americom has awarded Arianespace and International Launch Services (ILS) two communications satellite launches each for 2003-04. ILS, meanwhile, has also won the contract to launch NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

ILSwill carry SES's AMC 10 and 11 on Atlas IIAS boosters from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with Proton M boosters as back-up. The joint venture has also been contracted to launch parent SES Global's Astra 1K as well as AMC 9-12. AMC 10 and 11 will be built by ILS partner Lockheed Martin, based on the company's A2100 bus. The craft will carry C-Band transponders.

Arianespace will carry SES's AMC 13 and 15 from Kourou, French Guiana, on Ariane 5 launches. AMC 13 will be built around an Alcatel Space-built Spacebus 4000. AMC 15 is another A2100-based craft which will carry a mix of Ku- and Ka-band transponders.

SES Global, meanwhile, is currently negotiating a $1 billion insurance package covering the launch of up to seven communications satellites.

ILS will launch NASA's MRO in August 2005 on an Atlas IIIB booster. Meanwhile, the maiden flight of a Lockheed Martin Atlas V on an ILS mission has been set for 29 July, carrying the Eutelsat Hot Bird 6 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral.

Source: Flight International