The European consortium EADS Astriumhas signed the contract to build the two new satellites, Arabsat-4A and Arabsat-4B, which are scheduled to begin operations in 2006. The satellites will provide communication services throughout the Middle East, major parts of Africa, West Asia and part of Western European.

Under the deal, EADS Astrium will design and build the satellites, supply the platforms and upgrade Arabsat’s ground control centres. The European consortium will co-operate with France’s Alcatel Spaceon the deal, with the French firm to supply the payloads.The Eurostar 2000+ satellites, which will have a launch mass of about 3.3 tonnes, are designed for a 15-year lifespan.

The US/Russian International Launch Services (ILS)– a joint venture between Lockheed Martinand Khrunichev State Research & Production Space Centre – has been selected to launch the satellites on its Proton/Breeze M launch vehicles. The target launch dates are scheduled for late 2005 and early 2006.