Despite a tough economic climate, Astrium Satellites CEO Evert Dudok believes there are enough potential orders in the market to feel comfortable about the company’s prospects throughout the next 12 months.
Dudok discusses the potential for new orders Astrium Satellites and his view of the commercial and military marketplace in the coming years.
VIA SATELLITE: When will the satellite manufacturing sector see a full recovery from any economic slowdown?
Dudok: The orders we see in 2010 are maybe a little bit slow, but there are still quite big initiatives going on right now. We see someone like SES ordering up to four satellites. There maybe a new S-band opportunity upcoming. There maybe a new Ka-band opportunity upcoming. There is potentially a new military opportunity upcoming and all of that makes us feel comfortable, even in 2010, that we will reach our average in terms of satellite contracts to win. In good years, we can gain up to six orders. In a slower year, we can maybe expect down to two orders. But I don’t see any major problems.
VIA SATELLITE: What about the procurements for 2010?
Dudok: We see some big single satellite procurements for next year. The euro-dollar rates are impacting our opportunities. It makes things more difficult for us in the export market. We will have to look at other innovative opportunities. We tackle those opportunities one by one. Prices driven by dollars are difficult.
VIA SATELLITE: How do you overcome those currency issues?
Dudok: We have some sweet spots on our satellites. The bigger the payload, the better it is for us. There are certain technologies where we have I think a unique position. For example, the digital processor on board the payloads. We are looking for opportunities where our capabilities, such as flexible Ka-band payloads, match the needs of customers.
VIA SATELLITE: Do you believe the economic downturn will lead to fewer choices in the satellite sector?
Dudok: There are still some inherently weak operators financially in the market. There maybe changes there, but you cannot exclude further casualties. You look at the MSS market, there could be changes there. I am not sure how both Iridium and Globalstar will develop. It is a difficult situation for all. However, it is a bit like predicting how we will get out of the financial crisis and the availability of financing. It is difficult to assess. It will depend on how the overall economy will develop. We will just have to wait and see.