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According the Space News, SES was set to announce a very large contract with Astrium to purchase several spacecraft:

Satellite fleet operator SES has selected Astrium Satellites to build four direct-broadcast television spacecraft in a contract valued at around 500 million euros ($753 million) and expected to be signed the week of Nov. 30, industry officials said.

It will be the biggest single satellite order ever made by Luxembourg-based SES, which is also negotiating with Astrium on the sale of SES’s ND Satcom unit, a satellite ground-hardware supplier whose recent financial performance has been disappointing.

One industry official said the satellite order and the ND Satcom negotiations are not related, and that the satellite deal does not depend on Astrium’s purchase of Friedrichshafen, Germany-based ND Satcom, which is the biggest company inside what SES calls its services division.

This ought to ensure the viability of Europe’s space business for at least another decade. And if the shake-up at ND Satcom continues, it will confirm SES is truly concerned with space segment, first and foremost.


Sure enough, they made the formal announcement today:

“This important investment in new satellite capacity will enhance the prominence of SES ASTRA’s 28.2 degrees East position, mainly for the UK and Irish markets, and improve coverage of Eastern Europe from 31.5 degrees East,” said Romain Bausch, President and CEO of SES. “It will also allow SES WORLD SKIES to extend its offer to the African and Middle Eastern markets. By adding significant flexibility and improved functionality, these new satellites will allow SES to further drive its DTH, DTT, enterprise and broadband businesses while consolidating space assets and strengthening the international reach of the group. Also, we are pleased to be working again with Astrium. SES has appreciated the quality of their products and their customer dedication in recent and ongoing contracts, and this is exactly what we are looking for in this multi-satellite contract.”

What they were not looking for was Orbital, Lockheed, Boeing or SS/Loral. SES stands for Société Européenne des Satellites, after all.