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Ariane To Launch Spanish Defense Satellite (Sept. 17)

EVRY, France---Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, and Jose Maria Hoyos Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer of Hisdesat, the Spanish military operator, have signed the launch service contract in Madrid for the country's first military communications satellite, SPAINSAT.

SPAINSAT will be boosted into orbit by an Ariane 5 in 2004, from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport, in Kourou, French Guiana.

"Ariane fully meets Europe's strategic needs," noted Jean-Yves Le Gall, "which means that this launcher is more than ever a key to the development of a European defense and security policy. "I would like to thank Hisdesat for placing their confidence in us, and also single out the dynamic Spanish space industry for their critical contribution to consolidating the competitiveness of the Ariane launch system."

"While it may seem only natural for a European company to choose a European launcher, it was above all a question of opting for excellence," emphasized Jose Maria Hoyos Fernandez. "This contract symbolizes guaranteed independent access to space for Europe. Our independence must also be built on sound industrial foundations. SPAINSAT will play a very important role in the development of new satellite-based services."

SPAINSAT is the first satellite in Spain dedicated to secure governmental communications. The satellite will be operated by Hisdesat, a new company founded in 2001 by Hispasat, INSA (100% owned by INTA), EADS CASA Espacio, INDRA y SENER. Its first customer is the Spanish Ministry of Defense. SPAINSAT will take over for the Secomsat military payloads on the Hispasat 1A and 1B satellites, launched by Arianespace in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California, SPAINSAT will weigh about 3,700 kg at launch, and will be positioned at 30 degrees West, over the Atlantic Ocean. It will be fitted with 13 X-band transponders, plus one Ka- band transponder. Several of the satellite's major parts will be built in Spain, as will the ground segment.

SPAINSAT is the 20th military payload to have opted for the European launch vehicle.

Arianespace is the commercial launch services leader, holding more than 50 percent of the international market for satellites launched to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Created in 1980 as the world's first commercial space transportation company, Arianespace has signed contracts for the launch of more than 240 satellite payloads.

SPAINSAT to be Launched by European Launcher