Tim Furniss/LONDON

Daimler-Benz Aerospace has selected, China Great Wall Industry (CGWIC), to launch the Nahuel 1 communications satellite, which it is building with Aerospatiale for Argentine.

The decision is a blow to Arianespace, which lists the satellite in its order book of 37 outstanding launches. The European launcher company declines to comment on the "lost" contract.

Daimler-Benz, which like Aerospatiale holds a major stake in Arianespace, says that the Chinese contract demonstrates the company's commitment to its EuraSpace joint venture with China Aerospace (Flight International, 13-19 July, 1994).

Arianespace, has also lost the PanAmSat 5 launch contract to the Russian Proton, which is marketed by Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International.

The Nahuel contract, signed on 5 May by Liu Zhixiong, vice-president of CGWIC and Wolf-Peter Denker, president of the Satellite Systems division of Daimler-Benz, specifies a launch in 1997 aboard the new Long March 3C booster, capable of placing 3,700kg into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

This is basically a Long March 3B, with two liquid strap-on boosters, instead of four. The Long March 3B is similar to a Long March 2E, but has a high-energy cryogenic upper stage from the Long March 3A.

China now has seven outstanding commercial launch contracts for GTO satellites.

Source: Flight International