Tim Furniss/LONDON

SPACE SYSTEMS/LORAL has been awarded contracts for two communications satellites: the ApStar 2R for Asia Pacific Satellite and a high-power spacecraft for Mabuhay Philippines Satellite.

The Mabuhay satellite will be in competition with another planned national satellite system, the Agila, the contract for which has been awarded to Aerospatiale.

The ApStar 2R is a replacement for the Hughes-built ApStar 2 satellite, which was lost in the Chinese Long March 2E failure on 26 January.

A smaller ApStar 1A has already been ordered from Hughes as a stopgap solution before the launch of the high-power ApStar 2R. A Chinese Long March 3B will be used to launch the ApStar 2R satellite in February 1997.

A Long March 2C will launch the Mabuhay, bringing to 11 the outstanding firm launch contracts for China. Loral has also booked a Long March 2 to launch 12 Globalstar satellites into low-Earth orbit.

In addition to building the Mabuhay satellite's 30 C-band and 12 Ku-band transponders, Loral will provide the control centre.

Mabuhay Philippines Satellite is backed by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) company, and is involved in an intense competition to launch the first Philippine-controlled satellite.

A Philippine Government-backed consortium also plans to launch a communications satellite in 1996. Philippine Agila Satellite (PASI) awarded Aerospatiale its contract, for two spacecraft and two ground-control stations on 14 June. One craft will be a ground spare.

PLDT used to be part of the PASI consortium, but left because of an ownership dispute. The PASI satellite was originally planned for a 1998 launch.

It is still uncertain whether both systems will be launched. The two groups may have to merge to enable a satellite to be launched, since Mabuhay does not have an orbital slot, but has the financing, while PASI has a Government licence and the orbital slot, but no private financial backing.

Source: Flight International