ARABSAT signs contracts with a European consortium of companies to manufacture and launch not one but two of its 5th Generation satellites Saturday 16-06-2007 Riyadh - 16 June , 2007. The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat), the 30-year old leading Arab communications satellite operator based in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has selected a consortium of European companies, EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, to build the first two of its 5th Generation satellites program. A firm contract for manufacturing Arabsat-5A and BADR-5 was signed in Riyadh on 16 June 2007. Complementary contracts were also signed on the same day for the launch of these two new satellites, to be handled by France-based Arianespace and US-based International Launch Services (ILS), between Q3-2009 and Q1-2010. The spacecrafts will be launched by an Ariane-5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and on a Proton Breeze M vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Arabsat 5th Generation fleet consists of three satellites with a total of 130 transponders of all Ku-, C-, and Ka-, bands to be positioned at ARABSAT three orbital locations, including the new 20° East. Its core missions will be to make it possible for Arabsat to execute on its aggressive deployment strategy over the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) markets, and well beyond, by ensuring continued expansion to the neighbouring countries and protection of the existing services for the forthcoming 20 years with a very powerful state of the art technology introducing the new Ka-band for specialized 2-way services; the third spacecraft, Arabsat-5C, will be ordered in the coming months. The European consortium of Astrium and Thales Alenia Space is building the satellites, and is responsible for delivering them in orbit. Astrium, the leading partner, will supply the two Eurostar E3000 platforms and integrate the satellites. Thales Alenia Space will design and build the communications payloads. The team will also upgrade the ground control segment for the extended Arabsat satellite fleet. Mr. Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat President & CEO declared << We are extremely excited with today's actual kick-off of our 5th Generation program which marks a key milestone in the deployment of Arabsat's long-term strategy to consolidate its leading position in the Arab world and expand aggressively with cutting-edge technologies coupled with the highest level of reliability. The introduction of the first-ever in orbit "hot" back-up in the MENA region, as well as Ka-band, will allow us to offer to our customers an unprecedented level and unrivalled range of services. >> << Our partnership with Astrium and the Thales Alenia Space teams is not new and we are proud to renew it with two of our 5th Generation satellites. >> stated Eng. Balkheyour. << We were impressed by their customer-oriented flexibility and the high professional level they've demonstrated both over the previous manufacturing campaigns and during this negotiation, and are looking forward to the successful completion of this program. >> he added. << While the first two 5th Generation satellites are being built, Arabsat will launch BADR-6 as soon as Q2-2008, the second of its 4th Generation birds also built by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, on an Ariane-5 rocket. >> he completed. François Auque, speaking for the consortium, declared << We are delighted that the Arab Satellite Communications Organization ARABSAT, and its Board of Directors, has placed its confidence in our company Astrium and our partner Thales Alenia Space for the manufacture and the delivery in orbit of their 5th Generation satellites. We are pleased to continue our support to ARABSAT in the realisation of this significant new step in the development of their successful business. >>. Arabsat-5A, a multi-mission satellite, will take over from Arabsat-2B and provide additional capacity at 30.5º East for a large range of satellite communications services such as television backhauling and broadcasting, telephony, business communications, Internet trunking and the provision of VSAT and other interactive services, over sub-Saharan Africa, the North-Africa and Middle East (MENA) region, and beyond. A Eurostar E3000 model equipped with a payload featuring 24 active equivalent 36Mhz transponders in C-band and 36 in Ku-band, Arabsat-5A will have a launch mass of 4,800kg and a spacecraft power of 11kW at the end of its 15-year designed lifetime. BADR-5 (technically Arabsat-5B), will be co-located with the rest of Arabsat's BADR constellation of Direct-To-Home satellites at its 26° East video "hot-spot", primarily providing full in-orbit back-up capacity both for BADR-4 and BADR-6 television services, now reaching an audience of 164 Million viewers, from Morocco to the Gulf, by far MENA's leading television neighborhood. Covering a stretched zone encompassing the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and beyond, BADR-5 will guarantee to Arabsat's core direct TV broadcasting customers a unique "hot" redundancy, the highest level ever in the region. Complementary missions will include supporting the expected boom of HD-TV and, thanks to its Ka-band capacity, the development of new sophisticated interactive television services from broadcasters. -- Also a Eurostar E3000 model, equipped with a payload featuring 56 active transponders in Ku-band and Ka-band, BADR-5 will have a launch mass of 5,400 kg and a spacecraft power of 14kW at the end of its 15-year service lifetime.