DULLES, Va., March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- With an important new contract, Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) has solidified its place as a major supplier in the world market for geosynchronous orbit (GEO) communications satellites. Today, Orbital announced that PanAmSat Corporation (Nasdaq: SPOT), which owns and operates the world's largest private fleet of commercial GEO communications satellites, has selected the company to supply one C-band GEO satellite, with an option for two additional similar spacecraft.

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"We are honored to be chosen by PanAmSat to build their next-generation of C-band fixed service satellites," said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Orbital has successfully carved out a solid niche in the world's GEO satellite market with an approach that could best be summarized as 'bigger is not always better.' Orbital produces a 'right size' satellite to best fit the business needs of our customers."

"For over a decade, Orbital has been successful in applying this strategy to its family of launch vehicles and low-orbit satellites that have developed an industry-wide reputation for reliability and cost efficiency. We are now driving full speed ahead to duplicate that same level of success with our innovative GEO satellite products," Mr. Thompson added.

"As we continue to expand our North American fleet, PanAmSat will require satellites that are able to fulfill the current and future needs of our customers, while ideally complementing our existing network," said Mr. R. Douglas Kahn, PanAmSat's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Orbital's geostationary satellites were the most appropriate match for the types of advanced services they will provide our customers as well as the markets they will serve and the orbital locations they will occupy."

Dr. Ali Atia, President of Orbital's communications satellite group, said, "Perhaps as significant as the contract itself, PanAmSat's order validates Orbital's capabilities in providing smaller-size, more affordable GEO satellites at a time when much of the industry is moving toward larger and more expensive spacecraft."

Orbital is currently in various stages of building and launching several other GEO satellites for additional top-tier customers. The company recently launched and deployed the first of two new geostationary communications satellites to be delivered to Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) this year. The BSAT-2a satellite was launched into orbiton March 8 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. The initial in-orbit checkout of the spacecraft has been fully successful, with all data indicating that the satellite is operating as expected. Its sister satellite, BSAT-2b, is scheduled to be launched in mid-2001.

Orbital is also working on another GEO satellite program, the N-STAR c mobile communications spacecraft for Japan's NTT DoCoMo. On that program, Orbital is partnered with Lockheed Martin Corporation, the program's prime contractor, to provide the satellite platform, perform the integration of the payload with the satellite bus, conduct pre-and post-shipment testing and arrange for launch services. Orbital expects to deliver the bus and complete most of the pre-launch testing activities prior to the end of 2001.

"At Orbital, we strongly appreciate the importance of PanAmSat's business," said Mr. Mesut Ciceker, Vice President of Business Development for Orbital's communications satellite group. "We are most excited and highly motivated to enter into this long term partnership with PanAmSat and contribute to their success."

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 build 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.

About PanAmSat:

PanAmSat is a leading provider of global video and data broadcasting services via satellite. The company builds, owns and operates networks that deliver entertainment and information to cable television systems, TV broadcast affiliates, direct-to-home TV operators, Internet service providers, telecommunications companies and corporations. With 20 spacecraft in orbit today, PanAmSat has the world's largest commercial geostationary satellite network. The company will expand its global fleet to 22 spacecraft by year- end 2001. PanAmSat is 81 percent owned by HUGHES Electronics Corporation (NYSE: GMH). For more information on PanAmSat, visit the company's web site at http://www.panamsat.com .

About Orbital:

Orbital is one of the world's leading manufacturers of low-cost space systems, including satellites, launch vehicles, space sensors and satellite ground systems. Its Magellan subsidiary offers the industry's broadest line of GPS-enabled navigation and positioning products for consumer and industrial markets. Through its relationships with ORBCOMM, ORBIMAGE and ORBNAV, Orbital is also involved with satellite-based networks that provide data communications, high-resolution imagery and automotive information services to customers around the world.

Note to editors:

  • More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com

  • A high-resolution artist's rendering of an Orbital GEO satellite in orbit, suitable for publication, is available on Orbital's web site at: http://www.orbital.com/News/Images/Satellites

CONTACT: Investors: Timothy Perrott of Orbital Sciences Corporation,
703-406-5997, or perrott.tim@orbital.com .

SOURCE Orbital Sciences Corporation

CONTACT: Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528, or beneski.barron@orbital.com, or Investors: Timothy Perrott, 703-406-5997, or perrott.tim@orbital.com, both of Orbital Sciences Corporation/