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Mitsubishi Electric Plans to Double Satellite Production Capability

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

June 06, 2011

Mitsubishi Electric Plans to Double Satellite Production Capability

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Responding to growing worldwide demand, Mitsubishi (News - Alert) Electric Corporation announced plans today to double its annual satellite production capacity from four satellites to eight.   The company will invest over $37 million to enlarge and upgrade its production facility in Kamakura, Japan. Construction is scheduled to be completed by March 2013.

Mitsubishi Electric (News - Alert) plans to double satellite-related annual sales to $1.9 billion by March 2011. The satellite business is being positioned as a key contributor to the company's future growth. When completed, the new facility will have a total floor space of 7,700 square meters. Faster production and reduced costs will occur by integration production processes – a feature of SpaceX's (News - Alert) success in driving down costs – such as component assembly and environmental testing.

So far Mitsubishi Electric has produced 18 satellites along with electronics for the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) used to resupply the International Space Station (ISS), and has been involved in more than 440 satellite projects worldwide since entering the space industry in the 1960s. In May, the ST-2 communications satellite Mitsubishi build for SingTel and Chunghwa Telecom (News - Alert) had been successfully put into geostationary orbit.   

In March 2011, the company won a $600 million turnkey contract to build and launch the Turksat-4A and -4B satellites, with launch services supplied by ILS using the Proton rocket. The pair of communications satellites will use the DS2000 satellite platform, with the two to be delivered in the last quarter of  2013 and the first quarter of 2014 respectively.

Expected to have a life of 15 years, Turksat-4A will be positioned at 42 degrees east and provide Ku-band direct TV broadcast services, plus C and Ka-band communications services.   Turksat-4B will be positioned at 50 degrees east and provide service for the Turksat AS broadband connectivity service, plus C and Ku-band communications services.

Mitsubishi's expansion of capacity fits into the Japanese government's 2009 Basic Plan for Space Policy. The government expects the delivery and production of satellites should be based on utility rather than R&D projects, with satellites being able to provide higher level navigation services for GPS and other public infrastructure, as well as being a major export to supply the global telecommunications market.  

The Japanese government also wants to keep “eyes” on China and North Korea by being tracking of what its neighbors are doing through the use of optical imaging and radar satellites.

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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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