Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

New ICO orders 3 more satellites, to modify others
Posted: September 14, 2000

Five New ICO satellites are shown here at the Hughes facility. The 14-satellite New ICO fleet will provide enhanced voice and data services for New ICO customers throughout the next decade. Photo: Hughes
Hughes Space and Communications Co. (HSC), the world's leading satellite manufacturer, and New ICO, formerly ICO Global Communications, yesterday announced that Hughes will build at least three more satellites for New ICO.

In addition, HSC will modify 11 other spacecraft currently in production for the revamped New ICO system. The spacecraft modifications will assist in the enhancement of the New ICO constellation to provide high-quality voice and packet-data services. New ICO expects to begin service in 2003.

"The New ICO program is alive and healthy and promises to be a success in the world market," said Tig H. Krekel, president and chief executive officer of HSC. "These three new Hughes 601 satellites, coupled with modifications on the entire fleet, will provide enhanced voice and data services for New ICO's customers through the next decade. This new contract assures New ICO a full constellation at service start in 2003. We have the utmost confidence in New ICO."

Financial terms of the new contract orders and spacecraft modifications were not disclosed, and New ICO will make launch vehicle arrangements for the additional satellites separately.

"This contract for three additional satellites and modifications to our other satellites is a tangible step forward for New ICO and our future services," said Greg Clarke, CEO of ICO-Teledesic Global, a holding company established to control the satellite assets of telecommunications pioneer Craig McCaw.

Hexagonal transmit and receive antennas for New ICO, formerly ICO Global Communications, satellites line up in the Hughes factory. Photo: Hughes
HSC's original contract to manufacture 12 ICO satellites was awarded in July 1995. The ICO satellite design is one of the most complex ever undertaken by HSC and incorporates a number of unique design features. The satellites carry more computing power than 600 Pentium III-based computers; feature innovative transmit and receive antennas allowing direct air link to users; and use a so-called "smart processor" that is capable of adapting beam configuration to match usage and make the most efficient use of the bandwidth available. These features give New ICO unprecedented flexibility to meet ever-changing market demands on a global basis.

New ICO, a private company based in London, acquired the assets of ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Ltd., which was established in January 1995 to provide global mobile personal communications services by satellite. The business was renamed New ICO following the successful $1.2 billion McCaw-led acquisition of the former ICO group, which was completed in May 2000.

Building on its core capabilities of high-quality, mobile voice services, New ICO will also offer the satellite equivalent of third-generation (3G) wireless services, including wireless Internet and other packet-data services.

HSC is the world's leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites. HSC also supplies spacecraft for communications and space exploration to the U.S. government, and builds weather satellites for the United States and Japan. Hughes Electronics is the world's leading provider of digital television entertainment, satellite services and satellite-based private business networks.

The earnings of Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors Corp., are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock.