Ciel Satellite Group has been selected by the Canadian government to operate a communications satellite in competition with sole national operator Telesat Canada. Ciel, backed by US firm SES Americom, has received provisional approval from Industry Canada to operate a satellite at 129° W in geostationary orbit.

The company must begin operations by August next year to keep its orbital slot and plans to move an existing satellite to the location, with the intent of replacing it within a few years with a new, more advanced satellite. Ciel plans eventually to develop an independent Canadian fleet of satellites.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Shin Satellite has launched a competition for a Thaicom 5 geostationary communications satellite to be launched in 2009 to replace Thaicom 3, which is expected to terminate service in 2007 after a series of malfunctions, and Thaicom 2, which is expected to go out of service in 2009.

Source: Flight International