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December 25, 2012

Orbital's MEXSAT Bicentenario Satellite Successfully Sends Signals Shortly After Launch

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Orbital Sciences (News - Alert) Corporation, a Boeing partner and one of the world's leading space technology companies, recently had cause for celebration as its MEXSAT Bicentenario satellite sent its first signals from space following its launch from Kourou aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. Bicentenario, which was done being constructed at the end of November, is the first of three MEXSAT satellites launched for the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) of Mexico.

These satellites are meant to enhance Mexico's communications for domestic, military, civil and humanitarian needs.

Produced under contract to Boeing (News - Alert), this hybrid C-band and Ku-band communications satellite is based on Orbital's GEOStar-2 platform, which provides up to a 7.5 kW power payload and can accommodate virtually any type of commercial communications requirements. Since Boeing is the MEXSAT prime contractor, the company will build the remaining two 702HP geomobile MEXSAT satellites, with launches planned in 2013 and 2014.

"Today's successful launch brings us closer to the establishment of the MEXSAT system, which will enhance Mexico's disaster-relief and emergency services, and provide satellite broadcasting capabilities in telemedicine and tele-education," said Craig Cooning, chief executive officer of Boeing Satellite Systems International and vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

Ultimately, Boeing will integrate the three MEXSAT satellites with two ground telemetry and control sites, associated network operations systems and reference user terminals to form the MEXSAT network. Orbital will continue to work on the project, providing the command and control ground equipment and software for the Bicentenario, in addition to associated training and operational documentation.

In related news, Raytheon recently won a $1.5 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design a set of small, low-cost satellites which can be launched quickly in order to provide on-demand imagery to military forces. The first phase of the Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program will also include design and production help from the Sierra Nevada Corporation, the University of Arizona and SRI (News - Alert) International.

The second phase of the program will see Raytheon build six satellites for ground testing.

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