Gazprom Deputy Director Expects New Satellite Commission in 2011

After signing a new strategic contract with SES to bring more capacity to the Russian market, Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) could announce details of a new satellite before the end of the year, according to GSS Deputy Director General Igor Kot.

After signing a new strategic contract with SES to bring more capacity to the Russian market, Gazprom Space Systems (GSS) could announce details of a new satellite before the end of the year, according to GSS Deputy Director General Igor Kot.

Kot told Satellite News that despite GSS’ current efforts in leading an aggressive capital expenditure program, there is a good chance GSS could commission a new Yamal-600 spacecraft to support its existing network.

We have three satellites under construction. The Yamal-300K will launch in the first quarter of next year into the 90 degrees East orbital location. We also have the Yamal-401, which will also launch into the 90 degrees East orbital location at the end of 2013. Finally, we have our Yamal-402 satellite that we will orbit in the fourth quarter of 2012 into the 55 degrees East orbital location. These three satellites will increase our satellite capacity four-fold," said Kot. «This year, we are going to announce the tender for building one more Yamal-600 satellite, which will aim to replace our current Yamal-202 at 49 degrees East as it is due to come to the end of its life in 2015.»

The decision to team up with SES to bring more capacity to the Russian communications market portrays the region as a very fluid market with high demands for bandwidth. Under the terms of the deal, SES relocated its Astra 1 °F satellite from 51 degrees East to the orbital slot at 55 degrees East. GSS will utilize 16 Ku-band FSS transponders on the Astra 1 °F satellite to provide communication services for Western Russia ahead of the arrival of GSS' Yamal-402 satellite in 2012. In return, SES said it would use capacity on GSS' Yamal-402 once it becomes operational.

Kot said the capacity deal with SES was vital to its market strategy. «Our main purpose was to start our business development at our new orbital slot 55 degrees East before the launch of our Yamal-402 satellite dedicated for this position at the end of 2012. The main idea of this scenario is to provide for the continuity between the temporary and constant satellites allowing our clients smooth movement from Astra 1 °F to Yamal-402 with Yamal-402 providing higher power and wider service zones over Russia.»

Kot admits this is the first time that GSS has done such a partnership deal and that despite having discussions with others, SES was the best fit for the operator. «SES was not the only international satellite operator we have had these sorts of discussions with. It turned out that they met our interests on this deal. They had definitely what we needed, so the agreement was concluded within a very short timeframe. We also could extend our partnership in the future. We see it as a way of promoting each other’s satellite capacity in different markets.»

The Russian satellite communications market is in a state of flux. Regional satellite operator Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) also has been in the middle of an aggressive capital expenditure plan. Its capacity plans, however, were dealt a major blow when its Express AM4 satellite failed to launch in August and was declared a loss.

Kot said the Express AM4 launch failure should not have a wide impact on the market. «There is now a sudden escalation in the Russian capacity market situation. The satellite capacity deficit is still growing. We expect the capacity of our satellites will be in demand," he said. «We are waiting for two new satellites next year. RSCC also is in a waiting mode, but it is does not mean there will be a time of outage. We think the operators and providers will continue searching for temporary solutions. There will most likely be more operator partnerships established and new deals signed to attract additional capacity to the Russian market.»

Satellite News
Mark Holmes