Tim Furniss/PARIS

European commercial satellite launcher company Arianespace has lost a contract for two spacecraft but gained another, bringing to 40 the number of satellites on its launch orderbook.

Although it has won the contract to launch the Hughes-built HS376 model Brasilsat B4 communications satellite aboard an Ariane 4 in late 1999, it has lost two CD Radio satellites from its list of customers.

The CD Radio craft were to have been launched on Ariane 5 boosters into geostationary transfer orbit as a result of a contract with the New York-based company under which Arianespace provides launches via a loan scheme to assist new ventures.

The principal cause of the cancellation is CDRadio's appointment of Loral Space and Communications, its satellite manufacturer, as the launch-services provider for the $300 million system. Loral already has reservations on the Atlas and Proton vehicles, although it is possible that an Ariane 4 may be selected for a launch by Loral, but it would not involve the loan scheme.

CD Radio has "-changed its traditional geostationary orbit for a highly elliptical system", says Arianespace chairman Jean-Marie Luton. The company will have to pay Arianespace a cancellation fee.

The two-satellite CD Radio system has been increased to three FS-1300 craft, to provide US satellite-to-car radio broadcasting services from November 1999. There will also be one ground spare.

At least one CD Radio craft will operate from a 65¼ inclination orbit and the others at slightly lower angles to the equator, to ensure full coverage of the US market.

Source: Flight International