Russian sat-operator to expand with Astrium

Russia Satellite Communications (RSCC) is ordering two giant satellites from French manufacturer Astrium. The orders are part of a nine-satellite expansion plan. One order covers a craft lost last year in a launch failure (Express AM4, and the new craft is dubbed Express AM4R), with its costs funded by the insurance payout because of the loss.  The payout and order came about because the satellite was de-orbited into the Pacific Ocean a couple of days ago on March 25th.

This new craft will carry 28 Ku-band, 36 C-band transponders, as well as three L-band and two Ka-band transponders. Express AM4R is destined to operate from 80 degrees East. The current plan is for a launch to take place in early 2014, although RSCC is hopeful that this will be accelerated.

The other order, Express AM7, will launch in 2014 to 40 degrees East, and carry a similar payload. Both satellites will be based on Astrium’s popular Eurostar 3000 models.

But perhaps the most important news came from a RSCC statement outlining future plans, and where the operator said they would in the next few weeks issue an invitation to tender for certain loan facilities. These would also form part of the plan to cover the build and launch of a total of nine satellites, part to replace existing capacity and the rest to expand coverage. This covers eight further satellites.

“We project a huge growth in demand [in Russia] by 2020, so we will be growing organically without M&A [mergers and acquisitions]. We are gradually migrating from a wholesale supplier to one providing end-to-end solutions to customers. As an example of the potential, we have nine million households covered from our satellites at 36 degrees and 56 degrees east, out of a total of 70 million households in Russia,” says CFO Dennis Pivnyuk.

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