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Nilesat-301 satellite to be built by Thales Alenia Space

By , ITWeb
Africa , 06 Dec 2019

Nilesat-301 satellite to be built by Thales Alenia Space

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a contract with the Egyptian operator Nilesat to build the Nilesat-301 geostationary communications satellite.

According to a statement released by the companies, Nilesat-301, positioned at 7° West, will work with Nilesat-201 to provide Ku-band services for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Nilesat-301 will also help extend the company's provision of Ku-band communications and direct digital broadcasting services in two new large regions of Africa, while also providing broadband Ka-band connectivity over all of Egypt," reads part of the statement.

As prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for satellite design, production, testing and in-orbit acceptance tests. Thales Alenia Space will also provide satellite control system for Nilesat in both Cairo and Alexandria.

The companies say the satellite is based on the Spacebus 4000-B2 platform and will weigh about 4 metric tons at launch, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022. It offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

Following Nilesat-201, Nilesat-301 is the second geostationary communications satellite built by Thales Alenia Space for Nilesat. It is also the fourth payload developed by Thales Alenia Space for the Egyptian operator.

Jean-Loïc Galle. President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space, said, "I am delighted that Nilesat, and its Chairman and CEO General Ahmed Anis, continued to place their trust in us. This achievement proves that our telecommunications offer perfectly replies to the telecom market's needs and that we are perfectly capable of providing tailored solutions that meet each operator's specific requirements, to enhance global connectivity and reduce the digital divide."

Ongoing satellite interest

Gartner predicts that low earth orbit satellite systems will have a high business impact in the next five-to-ten years in Africa.

Bill Menezes, senior principal analyst at Gartner, is quoted as saying: "This technology is important for African countries as satellites can cover all remote or underserved geographies, providing the broadband connectivity critical to operating in remote areas in Africa."

Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tunisia have invested in satellite technology, to bolster network and broadband connectivity.

In July 2019, Tunisian technology consulting and engineering company Telnet Group signed a new deal with Russian satellite firms Sputnix and GK Launch Services to launch 30 satellites by 2023 to support an IOT network.

In November 2019 Patrick Nyirishema, Director-General for the Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA), attributed the increasing number of African countries embarking on satellite projects to the advent of low-cost space technology.

Speaking at the official announcement of the arrival of Rwanda's first satellite, RWASAT-1, at the International Space Station, Nyirishema said: "Rwanda is new on this path of lean space technology, but we have chosen to build capacity on this first path. In the past, satellite technology cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We are now entering a period where it is possible to build low-cost satellites that can perform many applications."

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