Satellite television and radio service provider Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) has contracted Hughes Space and Communications to build the Astra 2C and 2D communications satellites to help meet the growing demand for digital services.

The new satellites will operate from 28.2°E in geostationary orbit, primarily serving the UK and Ireland. The first will be launched late next year and the second in early 2001. The Astra 2C will be able to operate at 19í, where a network of Astra satellites already provides services across most of Europe.

The eighth and ninth SES Hughes satellites are different models. The Astra 2C will be an HS-601HP three-axis stabilised craft, similar to other SES satellites, and the 2D will be a spin-stabilised HS-376HP version, the first for Luxembourg-based SES.

The Astra 2D will fly on an Ariane, while the 2C will fly on an Ariane or a Proton. The 2D will have 15 Ku-band transponders, and the 2C will operate 32 Ku-band transponders, reducing to 28 after five years.

Source: Flight International