(Cannes, September 9, 2008) -- Thales Alenia Space today announced it has started construction of 16 of its Low Earth Orbit communications satellites for Jersey, Channel Islands based O3b Networks Limited, with options for additional spacecrafts. The satellites will offer low latency Internet backhaul to emerging markets and developing countries worldwide at speeds up to 10 Gbps with a combined total capacity in excess of 160Gbps. Thales Alenia Space started design activities under contract in 2007 and has received Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with the construction phase of the project. The delivery of the initial satellites and service activation are scheduled for late 2010.
O3b Networks recently announced the new satellite network with support and funding from Google, Inc, Liberty Global, Inc., and HSBC Principal Investments. Bridging the gap between current satellites and fiber optic cables, O3b Networks will provide fiber-like trunking capacity to telecom operators and backhaul directly to 3G Cellular and WiMAX towers.
This contract further demonstrates Thales Alenia Space's position as the world's leading space telecommunications system manufacturer. O3b Networks will rely on a flight proven platform. This platform is perfectly suited for telecommunications constellations with excellent in-orbit performance and secure development. It provides a cost-effective solution with a recurrent service module that features low-cost adaptation to the specific needs of various missions.
Greg Wyler, Founder and CEO of O3b Networks Limited stated: "We have selected Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing of our satellites as the result of a detailed opportunity analysis and competitive bidding process. Thales end to end system design experience and capabilities made them thebest candidate to support our go-to-market strategy and provide the most reliable heritage and solution to support our unique mission. We are well under way with the development and will have the initial system in orbit by the end of 2010".
Reynald Seznec, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space added: "We are very proud to have been selected to design, build and assist with the launch of a new major Low Earth Orbit constellation project. For this innovative project, we will leverage our strong heritage in both LEO platforms and unique capabilities in mission-critical payloads. We have organized ourselves to execute flawlessly on this contract and look forward to the late 2010 launch of the first batch of satellites."