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Intelsat Selects SpaceX, Arianespace to Launch C-Band Satellites 

By Rachel Jewett | September 17, 2020
Intelsat US Administrative Headquarters

Intelsat US Administrative Headquarters: Photo: Intelsat

Intelsat has selected Maxar Technologies to build the final satellite for its C-band transition, and has contracted with SpaceX and Arianespace to launch its new C-band satellites. The Thursday announcement marked Intelsat finalized its required contracts with satellite manufacturers and launch-vehicle providers to move forward and meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the FCC. 

The satellite announced Thursday, Galaxy 37 will be based on Maxar’s 1300-class spacecraft platform. The satellite is scheduled for delivery in 2023. Maxar will build a total of five satellites for Intelsat, as the operator’s initial announcement in June was that Maxar would build four satellites, and Northrop Grumman two satellites. SpaceX and Arianespace will launch these satellites on four separate launch vehicles, beginning in 2022. 

Intelsat said using a variety of manufacturers and launch-vehicle providers will lower transition program costs and help the company mitigate potential launch-delay risks. The operator is working to clear the C-band for 5G deployment on the FCC’s accelerated timeline in order to receive incentive payments. Intelsat is eligible to receive $4.87 billion, about half of the total payments, in addition to relocation cost reimbursement. 

“We have made exceptional progress to date in executing our transition plan,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “We’re moving forward at an accelerated pace to clear portions of the C-band spectrum and help cement America’s leadership in 5G.”

Intelsat is currently undergoing Chapter 11 restructuring. The operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, and said that its desire to receive accelerated relocation payments for clearing C-band spectrum was a driver for the company to restructure its balance sheet.

Maxar is also building Intelsat 40e, a next-generation Geostationary (GEO) communications satellite. It is scheduled to launch in 2022.