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Arianespace Wins Astra 3A Launch (Mar. 30)



WASHINGTON---Arianespace, Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. and Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES) today announced the signing of a contract to launch the Astra 3A telecommunications spacecraft on an Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle.

Astra 3A is to be orbited by the Ariane 5 in early 2002 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

"This latest selection by two major players in the space industry clearly reflects the broad recognition of Ariane's service quality,'' said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton, who announced the new order at the Satellite 2001 conference in Washington, D.C. "The Astra 3A contract follows the launch last year of seven satellites built by Boeing and two launches with spacecraft for SES.

Astra 3A will be built at Boeing Satellite Systems' El Segundo, California facility. It is the 43rd satellite from this company (formerly Hughes Space and Communications) that has been signed for launch by Arianespace, and it will mark the 10th Ariane launch for Societe Europeenne des Satellites S.A. (SES) -- operator of the Astra satellite system and the leader in European direct-to-home TV broadcasting.

The Astra 3A will use a Boeing 376 HP bus fitted with 20 active transponders (21 at beginning of service). Designed for a minimum in-orbit life of 10 years, Astra 3A will be positioned at 23.5 degrees East, providing optimum direct broadcast coverage for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It will also provide service continuity for Deutsche Telekom's DFS Kopernikus FM3 satellite.

To date, Arianespace has launched seven satellites for SES: Astra 1A in December 1988, Astra 1B in July 1991, Astra 1C in May 1993, Astra 1D in October 1994, Astra 1E in October 1995, Astra 2B in September 2000 and Astra 2D in December 2000.

With the new Astra 3A order, a total of three SES satellites are on Arianespace's list of satellites awaiting launch.

Including this latest contract, Arianespace's total backlog now stands at 47 satellites to be orbited (38 satellites plus 9 ATV missions for the International Space Station).

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Boeing Satellite Systems to Use Ariane 5; Astra 3A to Be Lofted for SES in Early 2002