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Orbital, SpaceX gain repeat customer with Thaicom

Posted: May 4, 2014

Replicating a teaming arrangement that achieved success in the January launch of the Thaicom 6 communications craft, the Bangkok-based telecom operator says it will select Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX to build and launch another television broadcasting satellite.

Photo of the Jan. 6 launch of the Thaicom 6 satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX
The company says the Thaicom 8 satellite will be completed around the first quarter of 2016. Thaicom 8 will meet demand for Ku-band communications services in Thailand, South Asia and Africa and replace aging satellites.

The medium-sized satellite is to be manufactured by Orbital Sciences and launched by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

Thaicom announced the plan in a filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand dated April 29. The company said it expects to enter into agreements relating to the satellite in May.

Thaicom 8 will carry 24 Ku-band transponders and weigh approximately 3,100 kilograms, or about 6,800 pounds, when fueled for launch. The satellite will have an operating life of 16 years.

Including expenses for the satellite, launch, ground segment and insurance, the Thaicom 8 project is expected to cost $178.5 million.

The Thai operator turned to Orbital Sciences and SpaceX for the Jan. 6 launch of the Thaicom 6 satellite, which represented a $160 million investment for Thaicom when it initiated spacecraft and launch contracts in 2011.

Thaicom 6 was the second commercial communications satellite to fly on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which industry officials say is well-sized for Orbital's medium-class spacecraft platforms.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.