Satellite constellation operator SES has chosen Thales Alenia Space to develop two C-band payloads to become the first Franco-Italian satellite developer to receive a satellite replacement order from the US Federal Communications Commission.
Thales Alenia Space anticipates developing SES-22 and SES-23 broadcast satellites via the Spacebus 4000 B2 framework. The fleet of six SES satellites will each have a capacity of approximately 3500 kilograms. These satellites will facilitate the usage of the C-band satellites of the US for the 5G cellular networks.
The press release on August 7 concerning the SES contracts comes after a series of satellite contracts between SES and the US. These contracts will facilitate the development of 300 megahertz of the C-band constellation for the coming four years, with the generation of $4 billion as incentives.
The FCC provides that the contract winners for these C-band bids will have to indemnify the subsequent satellite operators for the expenses of relocating from the spectrum. The costs are the replacement costs of the satellites to facilitate the delivery of telecommunications services.
The SES, Intelsat, and Eutelsat will receive substantial cash as incentives for allowing the C-band spectrum usage. The FCC is under immense pressure to ensure that US satellite operators provide replacement satellites for the outgoing spectrum owners.
The SES revealed the advantages of the US space industry in agreeing with Northrop Grumman and Boeing being the first to supply two satellites for the relocation of the satellite operators. Another exciting announcement is the award of the NSSL Phase 2 contract to SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance.
SES assured that the satellite order from Thales Alenia Space would help sustain the clearance of the 300-megahertz spectrum before the FCC’s grace period lapse. This move will ensure the firm receives $3.97 billion in incentives by the winners of the bids.
SES’s Chief Financial Officer Sandeep Jalan retorts that they will receive $977 million in incentives if they can develop 120 megahertz by the end of next year. The officer said that this money would help clear the firm’s $4 billion debt.
The remaining $2.99 billion incentives will help the firm settle its balance sheet with shareholders. Jalan said that this would create value for the company, thereby facilitating the development of the other 180 megahertz by the end of 2023.
Finally, the CEO of SES Steve Collar said on August 7 that there is a group leading the transition to the C-band spectrum. He further explains that SES is the first satellite to purchase and clear all of its satellites in this broadband satellite spectrum. Intelsat has also ordered the development of six of its satellites from Northrop Grumman and Maxar Technologies.