SES in JV plan for ‘GovSat’

Luxembourg-based commercial satellite operator is reportedly planning to form a joint-venture with the Luxembourg government and to create a fleet of military and governmental satellites, provisionally called ‘GovSat’.

The news, reported by specialist trade mag Space News, says the first leg of the scheme is present on the upcoming Astra 2G, due to be launched on November 28th.

Astra 2G will be carrying Ku and Ka-band transponders, but also an X-band transponder. X-band is used by the military and government agencies. The launch date is crucial because the X-band orbital slot, registered with Luxembourg authorities, expires in January 2015. Astra 2G, once launched, would spend three months at an unspecified orbital position which would be sufficient to ‘bring into use’ the slot and thus comply with ITU rules.  The satellite would then be drifted to its ‘working’ position at 28.2 degrees East.

Space News says that Luxembourg’s Defence Minister, Etienne Schneider, in a Nov 4 document made the case that Astra 2G’s X-band cargo would help fulfil Luxembourg’s obligations to NATO.

The suggestion is that the SES Board of Directors will decide on December 4th whether to proceed with the plan, although the first dedicated ‘GovSat’ is not likely to be in place until 2017.

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