Tim Furniss/LONDON

Australia has signed a contract with Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) to provide the satellite and ground infrastructure for a new $327 million hybrid civil-military communications satellite, Optus C-1.

The Optus C-1 is to be launched on an Ariane 5 in 2002, although the contract is yet to be confirmed officially by Arianespace. The spacecraft will be built by Mitsubishi, Space Systems Loral and Raytheon as prime contractors.

Optus C-1, which will replace an Optus B series craft in orbit, will provide video distribution, direct-to-home television, telephony and Internet connections. The satellite will also have a military communications payload to serve the Australian Defence Forces. CWO will build a new military communications earth station at Canberra as part of the contract.

The satellite will be based on a Loral F1300 spacecraft bus, carrying 18 antennas and UHF, X-band, Ka-band and Ku-band payloads. Earlier Optus satellites have been built by Hughes Space and Communications.

Three Optus A series satellites (originally called Aussat) were launched in 1985-7 on Space Shuttle and Ariane missions. These were followed by two Optus B craft, carried on Chinese Long March boosters in 1992-5.

• Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems and Orbital Sciences (OSC) have been selected by Japan's NTT Mobile Communications Network for contract negotiations to build and launch a new N Star satellite. It will be launched in 2002 to provide S-band services to Japan.

The satellite will be based on an OSC Star spacecraft bus, with Lockheed Martin prime contractor and providing the launch.

Source: Flight International