A new multi-million-pound deal by European businesses Eutelsat Communications and Airbus Defence and Space for two new communication satellites will see components and major parts assembled in the UK before final assembly is completed in Toulouse, France.
Components and major parts of the assembly will be built in the UK under the contract signed on Monday (19) between satellite operator Eutelsat and aerospace manufacturer Airbus, UK’s Business Secretary Greg Clark announced.
The deal, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, between Eutelsat, one of the world’s top three providers of TV broadcast signals and Airbus is a huge vote of confidence in the UK expertise in the space industry, benefitting 500 highly skilled workers involved in Eutelsat projects.
The new investment means Airbus sites in Portsmouth and Stevenage will manufacture key components of the two new satellites for Eutelsat, which will feature a brand-new electric platform to bring down size and cost while boosting performance.
Eutelsat is to replace its three existing satellites with two new ones set to launch in 2021. The latest announcement means that six out of seven of the company’s next satellites will be partially built in Britain, representing an inward investment of up to€40 million per year.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said, “this investment is a significant vote of confidence for the UK’s world-leading space industry….this new deal builds on the recent announcement, as part of our industrial strategy, that the UK is investing in, and building, its first proposed spaceport in Sutherland. The Spaceport will further develop our expertise and capabilities in the space sector enabling us to launch small satellites.
Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer said, “the agreement will see the manufacture of key parts of the new satellites at Airbus’ facilities in Stevenage and Portsmouth. These satellites will renew the in-orbit assets at HOTBIRD, Eutelsat’s largest video hotspot, ensuring our continued support to global broadcasters in delivering high-quality video content and services throughout the UK and Europe.”
UK expertise has contributed significantly to the build of 23 of Eutelsat’s 38 satellites currently in orbit.