Satellite orders recover

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The past few years have been bad for satellite builders. For example, in 2017 and 2018 there were only 14 orders for geostationary satellites. According to trade newspaper Space News there was something of a recovery in 2019 when the industry reported that orders for 15 geostationary craft were placed.

Good as last year was, production is still well below a typical c20 units a year ordered a few years ago. The proof that times were bad was proven that Lockheed Martin lost some $410 million on the production of its latest three satellites.

Airbus Space & Defence led the order book for 2019 with six large commercial satellites. Three were for Inmarsat, one for Malaysia’s Measat and two which it is building with Thales Alenia Space for Madrid’s Hisdesat.

There are other orders pending for 2020 with a likely commitment from Intelsat for a replacement for its failed I-29e craft. A potential order for a Nepalese craft was expected by Thales Alenia but that has been delayed says the news report.

This year, it seems that some optimists suggest there will be around 20 satellites ordered, but most will be happy to see 12-15 representing good news for the manufacturing sector.

Adding to the portfolio could be the commitments from the (perhaps now defunct) C-Band Alliance (CBA) which talked about eight satellites being needed to replace and augment capacity being surrendered to the FCC. Even with the death of the CBA it is likely that Intelsat and SES will each need to order about four satellites. This will help US manufacturers such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Maxar (the former Space Systems/Loral).


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