Arianespace announces contract with SSL to launch BSAT-4b for Japanese operator

BSAT President and CEO Takashi Yabashi (left) with Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël (right). Image courtesy of Arianespace.

As the annual Japan Week event opened, Arianespace announced a new contract with SSL (a Maxar Technologies company) for an Ariane 5 mission in 2020 to orbit the BSAT-4b satellite for Japanese operator B-SAT (Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation).

Built by SSL using a 1300 platform, BSAT-4b will feature 24 Ku-band transponders. It will weigh about 3,520 kg at launch and is designed to have a nominal service life of at least 15 years. It will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 110 degrees East.

BSAT-4b will serve as a back-up of BSAT-4a, which was launched by Arianespace in September 2017. It will have the same Japan archipelago footprint as BSAT-4a, providing Direct-To-Home (DTH) television to ensure exceptional 4K/8K ultra-high definition (UHD) video distribution for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

With this new contract, the 32nd signed in 32 years, 75% of Japanese geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) launches open to competition have been entrusted to Arianespace.

This contract follows two recent successful launches for Japan:

  • September 29, 2017: BSAT-4a for operator B-SAT.
  • April 5, 2018: DSN-1/Superbird-8 for the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the operator SKY Perfect JSAT.

Three years after opening its office in Tokyo, Arianespace orbited JCSAT-1 in 1989. The company has since launched a total of 30 geostationary satellites for Japanese operators SKY Perfect JSAT (19 satellites launched), B-SAT (9 satellites launched) and NHK (2 satellites launched).

In addition to the 32 contracts, Arianespace was selected to launch two commercial satellites acquired jointly by Japanese and international operators: Horizons-2 (launched by an Ariane 5 in December 2007) and Horizons 3e (in the order book for a future mission), with these two satellites belonging to the Horizons joint venture owned by Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT.

In addition, Arianespace has orbited five satellites built by the Japanese manufacturers Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and NEC (NEC Space Technologies, formerly NEC TOSHIBA Space Systems).

The next Arianespace missions for Japanese operators will be: JCSAT-17 and Horizons 3e for SKY Perfect JSAT, and BSAT-4b for B-SAT.

BepiColombo, the ESA mission in partnership with JAXA to explore the planet Mercury, will be launched by Arianespace in October 2018.

During his visit to Japan, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël said: “Following the successful launches of two satellites for BSAT, then for the Japanese Ministry of Defense and SKY Perfect JSAT in the last seven months, as well as the signature today of our 32nd contract in this country in 32 years, Arianespace is proud to carry on its exceptional partnership with Japan.

“We are honored by the ongoing confidence of major Japanese operators, for whom we have already orbited three-fourths of their geostationary satellites that were open to competition for launch. Our backlog includes three Japanese geostationary commercial satellites, along with the iconic BepiColombo mission led by ESA in partnership with JAXA, which will be launched this fall on an Ariane 5. Building on these shared successes and our new-generation Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers, Arianespace will continue to contribute to the development of Japanese space ambitions.”

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