The Australian operator NBN (National Broadband Network) has chosen Arianespace to launch its first two satellites, dedicated to broadband Internet services.
The launch contract for NBN's first two satellites was signed today in Sydney, Australia by Mike Quigley, Chief Executive Officer of NBN, and Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of Arianespace, in a ceremony attended by Fleur Pellerin, French minister of SMEs, Innovation and Digital Economy and her Australian counterpart, Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy.
The satellites will be launched by two Ariane 5 rockets, at the beginning and end of 2015, from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This latest contract once again proves that Arianespace offers the launch services that best match the requirements of all satellite operators.
NBN's two satellites will be the eighth and ninth Australian satellites launched by Arianespace. Aussat A3 was launched in 1987, followed by Optus & Defence C1 in 2003 and Optus D1, D2 and D3 in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Optus 10 is slated for launch in the second half of 2013, and Arianespace has another Australian satellite in its order book, Jabiru-1 for the operator Newsat. Furthermore, SingTel, the parent company of Optus, had chosen Arianespace to launch its ST-1 and ST-2 satellites, in 1998 and 2011, respectively.
The two NBN satellites, built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California, will each weigh about 6,000 kg at launch. Fitted with Ka-band transponders, they will provide broadband Internet access for all of Australia, as well as the Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos (Keeling) islands. Their design life is 15 years.
Following the signature of this contract, an excellent example of Australian and French collaboration on innovation and digital technology, French minister Fleur Pellerin said: "I would like to congratulate Arianespace for this major success, which reflects the high-tech excellence of French and European companies. Arianespace has demonstrated unrivaled reliability in its sector, and Australia's choice of French technology is clear proof of this performance. Backing these results are the sum total of French expertise in innovation, which is the key to its companies' international success and our economic recovery. I would also like to pay tribute to the Australian operator NBN for launching this major project to fight against the digital divide across their entire country."
Mike Quigley, CEO of NBN, added: "This is very exciting news. For the first time, families and businesses in the Australian outback will enjoy broadband connectivity that is as good or even better than in our cities. Thanks to satellites, we will be able to reduce the digital divide and tackle the main challenges facing our huge continent, namely healthcare, education and trade."
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said: "Arianespace is particularly proud of this opportunity to work with NBN and to participate in such an innovative project. I would like to personally thank NBN for choosing Arianespace. For us, this is clear international recognition of the competitiveness of our launch services. It also reflects the validity of the space policy that Europe, under the impetus of France, has applied for the last 40 years."
Date: Mar 5, 2013