As the USA feels the economic pinch, countries around the globe are planning new communications spacecraft

Countries including Cyprus, Greece, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia are planning new communications satellite ventures as US satellite communication firms face new regulatory hurdles and a harsh financial environment.

Indonesia plans to launch a new $120 million Palapa communications satellite, to augment and eventually replace its C-2 spacecraft which is operating at 90% capacity. Bids for the manufacture and launch of the satellite in 2003 will be issued soon, says Indonesian operator Satelindo. Boeing Satellite Systems built Palapa C-1 and C-2, both launched in 1999 by Atlas and Ariane vehicles, respectively.

Meanwhile, Greek and Cypriot plans to join forces to develop a $250 million, 36-transponder two-satellite regional communications system, announced in 1999, are moving forward with the formation of the Hellas-Sat organisation, which will include funding from Canada's Telesat.

Hellas-Sat is expected to announce an order for two spacecraft from Boeing Satellite Systems, aiming for a potential Ariane launch of the first satellite in August-September 2002, placing the craft into a geostationary orbit slot at 39íE. The second satellite will be launched in March 2004.

In Japan, Space Systems/Loral has received final authorisation to build the MBSAT digital multimedia information service satellite for the country's Mobile Broadcasting Corporation. The three-axis stabilised MBC, equipped with 16S-band transponders, will be launched in 2003, providing music, video and data to users with mobile receivers. Major MBC investors include Toshiba, Toyota, Nippon TV and Panasonic.

Funding problems have led Malaysia to invite African states to share the cost and use of its 24C-band and 12 Ku-band transponder Measat 3 communications satellites to be launched next year.

In the USA, meanwhile, satellite communication start-up Teledesic has cut back plans for its Ka-band internet-in-the-sky broad band system, from an original 840spacecraft to 120. "Despite the current financial markets, we still intend to deliver on our promise of broadband connectivity on a global scale," says Dennis James, Teledesic president.

The craft will be built by Italy's Alenia Spazio or Lockheed Martin, with contract award later this year.

XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, meanwhile, are facing new regulatory hurdles, with the launch of their audio services to users across the USA now dependent on the installation of a network of terrestrial repeaters not yet approved by the Federal Communications Commission. Other terrestrial users, including BellSouth and AT&T Wireless, have raised concerns that XM and Sirius' services could cause interference to their networks.

Source: Flight International