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Thales Alenia Space Wins Hotly Contested Brazilian Satellite Contract
PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — The Brazilian government has selected Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy to build an X- and Ka-band satellite for military and civil use following a yearlong competition that turned in part on how much technology the winning bidder would transfer to Brazil’s fledgling space program, the joint venture handling the project announced Aug. 12.
The Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite, or SGDC, was viewed by several bidders a door opener to further work in Brazil on Earth observation and meteorological satellite programs.
Visiona Tecnologica Espacial SA, a joint venture of Brazil’s Telebras telecommunications network operator and Embraer Defense, has been assigned the role of future Brazilian satellite manufacturer under Brazil’s ambitious space program.
The Brazilian Defense and Communications ministries, which both lease satellite capacity from Brazil’s Star One satellite fleet operator, were on the steering committee that oversaw the SGDC competition. Brazil has budgeted 716 million Brazilian reals ($314 million) for the SGDC project, a figure that includes the satellite’s construction and launch, aboard a European Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, in early 2016. It will operate at 75 degrees west longitude in geostationary orbit.
The Evry, France-based Arianespace launch consortium, operator of the Ariane 5, was selected under a separate competition.
Because of its potential as an entry into Brazil’s ambitious national space program, the SGDC competition drew bidders from the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Russia and Japan.
Visiona settled on three finalists, the other two being Space Systems/Loral (SSL) of Palo Alto, Calif., backed by its corporate parent, MDA Corp. of Canada—which had previously submitted a separate bid without SSL—and Mitsubishi Electric of Japan.
In its Aug. 12 statement announcing the results, Visiona said the bidders were judged by financial and technical criteria and by their ability to meet Brazil’s requirements on technology transfer.