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Loral Gets Contract to build Telenor Thor 7 Communications Satellite

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

June 20, 2011

Loral Gets Contract to build Telenor Thor 7 Communications Satellite

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Space Systems Loral (News - Alert) (SS/L) has won the contract to build the Thor 7 communications satellite for Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. The satellite includes Telenor's first Ka-band payload and a Ku-band payload for providing more broadcast services to Central and Eastern Europe. 

Thor 7 will be located at 1 degree West in geosynchronous orbit when launched.   The satellite will be built using Loral's 1300 satellite platform and have a primary payload of 11 Ku-band transponders, with additional Ku-band transponders on board for backup. Serving a growing demand for high-bandwidth broadband communications in the maritime industry, the Ka-band payload will include spot beam coverage over the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Red Sea, Baltic Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Mediterranean.   Ka-band will provide higher data rates over Ku-band, but the Telenor release doesn't specify the type of speeds a typical ship might get.

Telenor says it currently reaches more than 17 million cable and satellite homes via satellite, delivering over 700 channels across Europe at the 1 degree west position. Satellites the company owns and are in operation at 1 degree West include Thor 5, launched in 2008 with 24 Ku-band transponders; Thor 6, with 36 Ku-band transponders; and part of Intelsat (News - Alert) 10-02, launched in 2004 and owned with Intelsat. Telenor owns 7 Ku transponders on Intelsat 10-02. In addition, Thor III offers service to the Middle East orbit from 4 degrees West.

Construction of the satellite will take place at SS/L's facility in Palo Alto (News - Alert), California and is expected to take 28 months. SS/L has responsibility for design, construction, and test activities for Thor 7, which is expected to start commercial service in the first quarter of 2014, with an expected lifetime of 15 years or longer.  

Today's official announcement announcement from Loral and Telenor didn't include who was going to put the satellite into orbit. The company said it is currently conducting negotiations with its preferred satellite launch provider and will announce its decision at the end of June 2011. In the past, Telenor has used International Launch Services (ILS) to launch Thor 5 and Arianespace to put up Thor 6.

According to Space News, Loral beat out Thales Alenia Space to build the satellite and had offered to bundle in a SpaceX (News - Alert) Falcon 9 rocket into its bid, while Thales Alenia had offered to make Thor 7 an ITAR-free design without U.S.-build components limited for export so it could use a Chinese Long March vehicle.

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Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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