As the Group’s space-related activities remain largely Eurocentric, Thales’ space influence in the Middle East is comparatively subdued. The Group has, however, remained active in Saudi Arabia as a result of satellite deals with Arabsat.
Thales Alenia Space has delivered three first-generation satellites, two second-generation satellites and one third-generation satellite to Arabsat since the 1980s. Since 2009, the company has teamed up with Astrium to build and deliver 4th and 5th generation satellites. Astrium is responsible for building the platforms and integrating the satellites, while Thales Alenia Space is designing and building the communications payloads.
In January 2013, the Thales Alenia Space & Astrium consortium signed the first satellite in Arabsat’s 6th generation. The purpose of the multi-mission satellite is to deliver broadcasting, broadband and telecommunications services over MENA (Middle East and North Africa), Africa and Central Asia. In November 2015, it was successfully launched by Arianespace from Kourou in French Guyana with an Ariane 5 rocket. Arabsat 6B weighed 5800 kg at launch and will have a spacecraft power of 11.5 kW at the end of its fifteen-year design life. It will be co-located with Arabsat satellites at the 26° East video hot-spot known as BADR.