Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

U.S. firm to build Chinese communications satellite

Posted: January 12, 2001

An artist's concept of a Loral-built communications satellite in space. Photo: SS/L
Space Systems/Loral announced this week that it had received a contract from a Hong Kong-based satellite operator to build Apstar 5, a replacement for the aging Apstar 1 communications spacecraft.

The C-band/Ku-band hybrid Apstar 5 will be positioned in the same slot Apstar 1 now occupies -- at 138 degrees East, or 22,300 miles above New Guinea. From there, it will provide audio, video, and data transmission services to China, Hawaii, and eastern Asia. There is also a possibility of connectivity from Asia to the United States through Hawaii.

The contract specifies that APT Satellite, SS/Loral's customer, be able to choose the launch service provider and to secure its insurance. Once SS/Loral receives the mandatory export license from the U.S. government, it can support a launch of Apstar 5 in early 2003, most likely aboard a Chinese Long March rocket.

The total mission cost to get Apstar 5 in orbit will be approximately $230 million.

During its minimum lifetime of 13 years, Apstar 5's 38 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders will relieve most of the burden currently placed on the shoulders of Apstar 1, which was placed into orbit in July 1994 using a Long March 3 rocket from China. Apstar 5 will have total beginning-of-life power of 10.6 kW.