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Optus taps Arianespace for satellite launch

Number ten to fly in 2013

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Arianespace has announced that it has been signed to lift Optus’ tenth satellite into orbit in mid-2013. The satellite will be lifted from the Guiana Space Centre using the Ariane 5 lifter.

Optus 10 will be Arianespace’s sixth launch for the carrier since 1987 (back when the satellites were operated by the formerly government-owned Aussat, with the satellites transferred to Optus as part of Australia’s deregulation efforts in the early 1990s).

Back in March, Optus announced that Space Systems/Loral is to build the satellite, which will be the fourth of Optus’ D-Series satellites and will have 24 Ku-band transponders.

The satellite will serve TV, remote Internet, telephony and data transmission markets in Australia and New Zealand.

Although satellite is still considered something of a poor cousin to terrestrial comms, Australia’s resources and minerals boom is placing a premium on remote communications, both for exploration and “fly-in-fly-out” mining communities.

The Optus fleet comprises five satellites currently in service, with its eight-year-old C1 satellite also carrying a payload for the Australian Defence Force. The carriers’ customers include Foxtel, SBS, the ABC, the Seven and Nine Networks, Sky TV NZ, Globecast, along with Australian and New Zealand government and private sector organizations.

According to industry newsletter Communications Day, Arianespace is eyeing the Asia-Pacific region as a growth market. New satellites the company hopes to pitch its launch services towards include NewSat’s planned Jabiru satellites, the first of which is planned for the end of 2012, and the two Ka-band satellites planned for Australia’s National Broadband Network and due to launch in 2015. ®

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