News ID: 234488
Published: 0858 GMT November 19, 2018

Airbus lands £180m contract for communication satellites

Airbus lands £180m contract for communication satellites

A deal worth almost £180 million was struck between UK-based Airbus Defense and Space and France’s Eutelsat to develop communications for two new state-of-the-art satellites which will see components and major parts assembled in the UK before final assembly is completed in Toulouse.

And British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark hailed it as further evidence of the leading role the UK is playing in developing communication satellites, with 25 percent of them currently built in this country, reported.

The deal, worth £177.7 million (€200 million), between the Paris-based company — one of the world’s top three providers of TV broadcast signals — and Airbus, represents a vote of confidence in the UK expertise in the space industry, benefiting 500 high skilled workers involved in Eutelsat projects.

The new investment means Airbus sites in Portsmouth and Stevenage will manufacture key components of the two new satellites for Eutelsat, which will feature a brand-new electric platform to bring down size and cost, while boosting performance.

Eutelsat is replacing its three existing satellites with two new ones set to launch in 2021.

The announcement means six out of seven of the company’s next satellites will be partially built in Britain, representing inward investment of up to £35.5 million (€40 million) per year.

Clark said, “This investment is a significant vote of confidence for the UK’s world leading space industry.

“The UK is already a world-leader in developing satellite technology, with a 40 percent share of the global export market of small satellites and building major parts for one in four of the world’s commercial telecommunications satellites.

“This new deal builds on the recent announcement, as part of our Industrial Strategy that the UK is investing in, and building its first proposed spaceport in Sutherland.

“The spaceport will further develop our expertise and capabilities in the space sector enabling us to launch small satellites.

“Through our Modern Industrial Strategy, we are increasing the R&D budget to its highest level ever, building on our commitment to this sector and our world leading science base. This deal demonstrates that science and innovation has no borders.”

UK expertise has contributed significantly to the building of 23 of Eutelsat’s 38 satellites currently in orbit.

Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer said, “I am delighted to sign this agreement with Airbus to build two new state-of-the-art satellites, cementing the long-standing partnership between our two companies.

“The agreement will see the manufacture of key parts of the new satellites at Airbus’ facilities in Stevenage and Portsmouth.

These satellites will renew the in-orbit assets at HOTBIRD, Eutelsat’s largest video hotspot, ensuring our continued support to global broadcasters in delivering high quality video content and services throughout the UK and Europe.

“We are impressed with the ongoing expansion of the UK space sector, particularly its growing industrial capabilities and development of cutting-edge technology, and we will continue to rely on the UK’s ability to build and deliver world-leading spacecraft.

“I am grateful for the support of the UK government and UK Space Agency, both of whom recognize the strong commitment Eutelsat has made to the UK over many years.”

Airbus employs over 3,000 space engineers in the UK.

The Airbus UK facilities in Portsmouth and Stevenage will build the entire communications payload, platform structure, propulsion subsystem, antennas and various mechanisms for the satellites.

Colin Paynter, the managing director of Airbus Defense and Space UK, said, “Airbus' telecommunication satellite technology developed in the UK has been key to this significant contract win.

“UK Space Agency support for the ESA ARTES program has enabled Airbus in the UK to develop world leading technology for the world’s leading satellite operators.”


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