- PanAmSat Exercises Option to Buy Two More Small Geostationary Communications Satellites from Company -Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) received another major industry endorsement for its smaller-sized geostationary (GEO) STAR(TM) satellite systems today when PanAmSat Corporation (Nasdaq: SPOT) exercised a contract option to purchase two additional company- built C-band spacecraft. The two new satellites will be based on Orbital's STAR-2 platform, which offers the satellite industry's highest performance and lowest per-transponder acquisition costs of any small commercial GEO spacecraft in production today. The two companies did not disclose the financial details of the option exercise, which follows PanAmSat's original order with Orbital for one STAR-class satellite in March 2001. The first of the two new PanAmSat satellites is slated for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2003, while the second satellite is expected to have its delivery date determined in the near future.
"We are exceptionally pleased that PanAmSat has given us the go-ahead to build two additional satellites for its in-orbit fleet," said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "With this order, Orbital continues to develop strong momentum throughout the satellite market as established and emerging operators in the U.S. and abroad are recognizing the benefits of our smaller-sized GEO satellites. Our STAR products offer customers lower acquisition and launch costs, the ability to cost-effectively add incremental capacity and the flexibility to meet certain regulatory requirements," he added.
Over the past several years, Orbital has developed a strong niche position in the world market for GEO communications satellites. With its ramp-up in the production of small, lighter-weight satellites, the company is on track to replicate its decade-long success following the introduction of its small- sized Pegasus and Taurus rockets to the world launch vehicle market in the early 1990's.
"Now that there is an established and proven alternative to the larger, more costly GEO satellites offered by our competitors, I think we are seeing a clear and encouraging trend around the world of satellite operators re- examining their acquisition strategy, budget flexibility and overall capacity requirements. With numerous new business proposals submitted or currently in the works, we are seeing more interest in our STAR satellites than ever before," said Dr. Ali Atia, President of Orbital's GEO communications satellite business unit.
With PanAmSat's exercise of its two option orders, Orbital has built and delivered, or is now in the process of manufacturing, eight GEO communications satellites, including IndoStar-1, B-SAT-2a, -2b and -2c, N-STAR c (in conjunction with Lockheed Martin), PanAmSat's Galaxy XII, and the two new spacecraft PanAmSat just ordered. Orbital is also one of the world's leading suppliers of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The company has developed and produced, or is now under contract to deliver, over 90 LEO spacecraft for commercial, scientific and defense applications.
Mr. Mesut Ciceker, Orbital's Vice President of Business Development for GEO satellites, said, "All of us at Orbital are grateful for the confidence that PanAmSat has shown in our ability to deliver three highly reliable, state-of-the-art satellites for their extensive worldwide communications network. We hope that this initial order is just the beginning of a long and beneficial relationship between Orbital and PanAmSat, one of the world's 'blue-chip' satellite operators."
Orbital's GEO satellites are based on the company's STAR family of smaller GEO satellite platforms, which are able to accommodate most types of commercial communications payloads. For many applications, the STAR design is an attractive alternative to the larger, more costly GEO satellites offered by the industry's traditional suppliers. The STAR satellites are smaller and are significantly less expensive to manufacture and launch. They are a perfect fit for customers in the early stages of building their business or established companies that wish to add incremental capacity to their network.
PanAmSat Corporation is the premier provider of global video and data broadcasting services via satellite. Operating a global network of 21 in-orbit spacecraft with more than 800 transponders and seven technical facilities on the ground, the company reaches 98 percent of the world's populations with entertainment and information delivered through cable television systems, TV broadcast affiliates, direct-to-home TV operators, Internet service providers, and telecommunications companies. PanAmSat is 81 percent owned by HUGHES Electronics Corporation. For more information on PanAmSat, visit the company's web site at http://www.panamsat.com .
Orbital develops and manufactures affordable space systems, including satellites, launch vehicles, electronics and advanced systems. Orbital is also involved with satellite-based networks that provide wireless data communications and high-resolution Earth imagery to customers around the world. For more information on Orbital, visit the company's web site at http://www.orbital.com .
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