February 21, 2018

Lockheed Martin completes assembly on Arabsat’s newest communications satellite

Technicians at Lockheed Martin prepare the Arabsat-6A satellite for shipment to Sunnyvale, Calif., for testing.

A new, high-capacity communications satellite that will deliver TV, internet and mobile phone services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe is one step closer to launch.

Lockheed Martin has completed assembly on the Arabsat-6A satellite, which was recently shipped to its Sunnyvale, Calif., facility to begin a comprehensive series of tests to ensure the satellite is ready for operations in orbit.

“This new satellite will strengthen our existing fleet that offers millions of people mobile and landline communications service across the region,” said Khalid Balkheyour, CEO of Arabsat. “We look forward to completing and launching this state-of-the-art new satellite to offer even greater internet, television and radio services to our customers.”

Arabsat-6A is part of the two-satellite Arabsat-6G program for Arabsat and is the second of Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM 2100 series satellites to complete assembly. The other satellite in the Arabsat 6G program, Hellas Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat-1, recently completed assembly and was also shipped to Sunnyvale in November of 2017 for testing.

“Arabsat-6A and its companion satellite, Hellas Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat-1 are the most advanced commercial communications satellites we’ve ever built,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space for Lockheed Martin. “The modernized LM 2100 that these satellites are built on is packed with new innovations, including solar arrays that are 30 percent lighter and 50 percent more powerful, upgraded flight software and more efficient propulsion capabilities resulting in longer maneuver life. Those improvements will deliver greater precision, performance and value in orbit.”

During the trip from Denver to Sunnyvale, Arabsat-6A was housed in a “mobile cleanroom,” which keeps the satellite secure and in pristine condition, free of virtually any specks of dust and contaminants that could damage its precision electronics.

In California, the satellite will undergo multiple tests to ensure it is fit for flight. The satellite will be blasted with sound, exposed to extreme heat and cold, and subjected to a total vacuum to simulate what it will endure during its launch and operations in space. The testing will be completed and the satellite ready for delivery to the launch site by the end of the year.

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