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ASTRA 3B And COMSATBw-2 Ready For Lift-Off

Illustration of COMSATBw-1
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Mar 19, 2010
Astrium has delivered the 50th flight-ready Ariane 5 launch vehicle to Arianespace together with two communications satellites - ASTRA 3B for SES Astra and COMSATBw-2 for the German Armed Forces.

The 50th Ariane 5 launch vehicle: perfectly orchestrated industrial organisation

Astrium recently completed delivery of its 50th validated, tested and flightworthy Ariane 5 launch vehicle. It has been prime contractor for the Ariane 5 programme since 2003 and, since 2008, is prime contractor to the European Space Agency for the Ariane 5 ME (Midlife Evolution) programme.

"Astrium Space Transportation personnel in France and Germany can take great pride in this latest delivery. Being able to assure the on-time delivery of such a reliable launcher that comprises the most cutting-edge space technology bears witness to our industrial know-how," declared Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium Space Transportation.

Two hi-tech communications satellites
ASTRA 3B is a state-of-the-art Ku/Ka-band satellite that was specifically developed to provide Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcast services and bi-directional broadband internet services throughout Europe and the Middle East.

The satellite will be capable of operating up to 60 Ku-band and four Ka-band transponders, with 10 kW of payload power. Its launch mass will be 5,470 kg. ASTRA 3B is the third satellite delivered by Astrium to SES ASTRA, following ASTRA 2B and ASTRA 1M.

ASTRA 3B is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, the latest version of the Eurostar satellites, which has been an outstanding success. A total of 17 Eurostar E3000 satellites are currently in orbit, with another 14 currently in production.

COMSATBw-2 is the second satellite in the Bundeswehr's SATCOMBw military communications programme, for which Astrium is responsible for the space segment and in-orbit delivery. Based on a Spacebus platform with an Astrium payload, the satellite was designed, manufactured, integrated, tested and delivered to Astrium by Thales Alenia Space.

After verification of its space worthiness in special ground test facilities, the satellite, which weighs approximately 2,400 kg, was shipped to Kourou in early February. Through its MilSat Services joint venture, Astrium is also responsible for the flight of the satellite based on a 10-year contract that was signed in July 2006.

The contract comprises an optional extension for an additional seven and a half years. The contracting authority is the Bundeswehr's Federal Office for Information Management and Information Technology (IT-AmtBw).

Astrium holds a 74.9% share in MilSat Services GmbH (MSS), with ND SatCom Defence (NDD), a telecommunications equipment manufacturer based in Friedrichshafen, holding the remaining 25.1%. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the operator Intelsat are two of the programme's other major partners.

For the first time, the German Armed Forces will have two dedicated communications satellites coupled with a secure communications network at their disposal for their deployed units. The Bundeswehr will now have autonomous means of providing global voice and data exchange to its troops, together with a wide range of video and multimedia applications.

"Astrium Satellites is responsible for both the satellites on board this Ariane 5 launcher. We built ASTRA 3B for our customer SES, who recently placed an order with us for a further four communications satellites, said Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites.

"COMSATBw-2 is the second secure communications satellite to be launched for the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) under the space segment prime contractorship of Astrium Satellites. This is impressive proof of Astrium's end-to-end capabilities," added Dudok.

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