SES has ordered two geostationary (GEO) Ku-band satellites for its prime orbital slot at 19.2 degrees East to maintain the premium services it provides to its European video customers and to capture new opportunities in the region.
The two replacement satellites – Astra 1P and Astra 1Q – will be built by Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%),and are expected to launch in 2024.
Astra 1P, a classic wide-beam satellite, will support SES’s prime TV neighbourhood and enable content owners, private and public broadcasters in Germany, France and Spain to continue broadcasting satellite TV channels in the highest-picture quality in the most cost-efficient manner.
Astra 1Q, a next-generation digital satellite with both wide beams and high-throughput spot beams, will be able to support DTH operations like Astra 1P. In addition, the fully flexible Astra 1Q is customisable on orbit and can be deployed easily to other orbital positions, enabling SES to serve the needs of its video and data customers well into the future.
The current satellites operating at SES’s prime orbital neighbourhood of 19.2 degrees East serve 118 million households or over 43% of all European TV homes. Specifically the majority of satellite homes in Germany, France and Spain are being served by the Astra satellites. The number of TV homes receiving HD content from these satellites has increased almost 30% over the past five years.
Commenting on the satellites, Steve Collar, CEO of SES, said: “Our prime TV neighbourhood at 19.2 degrees East is one of our most valuable assets and has been key to enabling renowned European broadcasters to grow their TV audiences in the last 30 years. These two satellites will have the resiliency, reliability and redundancy that our video customers need, and will be able to deliver continued premium services well into 2040.
“Additionally, thanks to advanced satellite technology, we will be future-proofing our investment and injecting a high degree of flexibility into Astra 1Q to ensure we are meeting the evolving needs of all the markets we serve”.
Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, added: “This contract reflects the ability of Thales Alenia Space to match complementary customers’ needs for both capacity and flexibility. We are proud to offer to SES our full electric Spacebus NEO flight proven product line to answer Astra 1P mission as well as our innovative software defined solution Space Inspire, allowing Astra 1Q the full in-orbit flexibility requested to serve the dynamic of the evolving market”.