PARIS, June 7, 2006/Satnews Daily/ — Arabsat, the communications satellite operator based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has awarded EADS Astrium a contract for the construction of the BADR-6 (‘Full Moon’) satellite.

Scheduled to enter service in 2008, BADR-6 will provide communications services over a wide area encompassing the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region,

from Morocco to the Gulf, and a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. It is the fifth communications satellite contract awarded to EADS Astrium since the beginning of 2006.

EADS Astrium will build the satellite as prime contractor and will be responsible for launch and early operations as part of an in-orbit delivery contract. EADS Astrium has already developed the Satellite Control Centres in Dirab (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and in Tunis (Tunisia) to control the Arabsat satellite fleet. The communications payload will be supplied by Alcatel Alenia Space.

BADR-6 will have a launch mass of 3.4 tons, a solar array span of 32 meters once deployed in orbit, and payload power of about 6 kW. As with the two satellites already built by EADS Astrium for Arabsat, BADR-6 will be based on the E2000+ version of the Eurostar communications satellite series. BADR-6 will provide commercial services for a minimum of 15 years.

Equipped with 20 transponders in Ku-band and 24 transponders in C-band, it will offer the highest downlink power level and the widest coverage over the in both bands across the Arab world. Joining Arabsat 's constellation of BADR satellites at 26° East prime video position, it will provide media groups in the Arab and neighboring regions with unparalleled satellite broadcast services for direct-to-home television in both bands, the latest interactive TV applications and internet broadband direct-access services.

It will also provide enough extra capacity to accommodate the anticipated boom in demand for HDTV in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming years.

Eng. Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat president and CEO, said with the company’s fast-track delivery schedule, customers operating at Arabsat’s 26° East primary TV "Hot Spot" will continue to receive from us in the next 20 years the highest levels of reliability and performance for state-of-the-art television and telecommunications services such as HD-TV, DVB-S2, DTT, 3G, that the company has been consistently delivering to them over the last thirty years of operations.

He said BADR-6 will guarantee to Arabsat broadcasters, for the long-term, full technical stability with the best ever conditions available in the MENA region to deliver their programming to our growing audience of 130 million viewers.