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On 31 December, Airbus signed a contract with Intelsat to build two new satellites for the latter’s next-generation software-defined network, the company announced on 8 January.

The satellites will be based on Airbus’ OneSat product line, the latest generation of fully flexible, software-defined satellites (SDS), which will be reconfigurable in orbit. OneSat is designed to deliver the optimal balance between performance, flexibility and competitive cost per bit, while maintaining Airbus’ product reliability.

The company will deliver an end-to-end fully integrated solution, including satellite design and manufacture. The ground segment software components, when fully integrated into Intelsat’s network and advanced digital suite, will allow dynamic operation of end-to-end satellite resources. The two next generation SDS will be delivered in 2023.

With six satellites now in production - plus options - for three major operators, OneSat has proven that when it comes to fully reconfigurable satellites, Airbus is the winning choice. Our new industrial capabilities put in place at our sites across Europe, together with our solid experience in Eurostar geostationary satellites and mega-constellation manufacturing, will enable production of our truly disruptive OneSats at an unrivalled pace,” commented Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Airbus Space Systems.

The SDS will deliver powerful performance for Intelsat customers across multiple geographic regions. This agreement also marks the beginning of a radical evolution of Intelsat’s network as the company pursues an aggressive, multi-year network transformation plan with investments in new assets designed for extremely high speeds, enhanced capacity flexibility, redundancy and backwards compatibility.

Intelsat Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Spengler, explained “Intelsat’s investment in Airbus software-defined satellites marks an important first step in evolving the world’s largest, most resilient, integrated space and ground network. Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network will be the catalyst for our growth, enabling future Gogo Commercial Aviation inflight broadband services, as well as other managed services across Intelsat’s customer segments.”

An artist’s rendering of the OneSat SDS. (Image: Airbus)

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