MATRA MARCONI Space has been awarded a $158 million contract to build and launch Egypt's Nilesat direct-broadcast television satellite. The deal was clinched despite competition from Aerospatiale and Lockheed Martin.

The contract with Egyptian Radio and Television Union provides for the supply of a telecommunications satellite in orbit, components of an on-the-ground spare satellite and a satellite-control system with a primary satellite-control centre in Cairo and a back-up centre in Alexandria.

The Nilesat 1, is due to be launched by Arianespace's new Ariane 5, at the end of 1997. The satellite will deliver up to 56 channels of direct-to-the-home television in Arab-speaking countries, extending eastwards from Morocco to the Arabian Gulf states.

The Nilesat will be based on Matra Marconi Space's successful Eurostar, which has already been selected for 14 other satellites, including France's Telecom 2, Hispasat and Inmarsat 2.

Source: Flight International