Egypt’s publicly-traded satellite operator NileSat has signed a contract with French aerospace giant Thales Alenia Space for the manufacture and in-orbit delivery of a new communications satellite named NileSat 301, reports Egypt Independent.
NileSat CEO Ahmed Anis and Martin Van Schaik, Senior Vice President at Thales Alenia Space, inked the deal yesterday.
Ahmed Anis said the signing of the deal follows the selection and approval of Thales Alenia Space as the prime contractor by the Board of Directors of NileSat over four other foreign satellite manufacturers that submitted bids.
The process of developing the new satellite began almost three years ago, Anis said, adding that feasibility and technical studies took about two and a half years.
Space in Africa had earlier reported that NileSat formed a selection committee comprising of industry experts and an international consultant to evaluate the bids submitted by satellite manufacturers to ensure it secured the latest technology at a budget price of USD 300 million, citing a statement released by the Cairo Stock Exchange.
With a development timeline of 25 months, NileSat 301 is planned for launch in January 2022, replacing NileSat 201 which will near the end of life in 2025.
The satellite will have a minimum lifespan of 15 years in orbit and will deliver communications and satellite broadband services to Egypt and neighbouring countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
NileSat has reportedly secured additional frequencies under a lease agreement with French satellite operator Eutelsat.
NileSat 301 will be NileSat’s fourth satellite in space. The first, NileSat 101, was launched into space in 1998, followed by NileSat 102 which was launched two years later. Both satellites were built by the defunct French aerospace company Matra Marconi, now Airbus Defence and Space. NileSat’s third satellite, NileSat 201, was built by Thales Alenia Space.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Editor at Space in Africa. He writes about Africa’s NewSpace companies and emerging national space programs.