By William Ostrove, Forecast International
At one point, the U.S. government accounted for about 90 percent of total Boeing communications satellite sales. Government contracts will continue to be a major source of revenue for Boeing. However, with U.S. federal budget pressures mounting, the company is balancing its order book with both government and commercial contracts. Government orders now make up about 70 percent of sales at Boeing.
Commercial contracts are becoming increasingly important to Boeing. Companies such as Intelsat, Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS), Satmex, and SES have all awarded Boeing contracts for the 702. The contracts from ABS and Satmex are significant because they introduce new technology into the 702 line. The satellites, designated 702SP, feature all-electric propulsion. This will save on weight and cost for the satellite operators.
The Intelsat order represented the first sale of a modified version of the 702, called the 702MP. Although the 702MP will provide less power than the older version of the 702 (now dubbed the 702HP), it will weigh and cost less than its larger cousin. The Intelsat order also demonstrated Boeing’s ability to implement hosted payloads on commercial satellites. Governments and commercial satellite operators are both attempting to increase the use of hosted payloads. Boeing is hoping to leverage its expertise in commercial and government satellite building to expand the sale of hosted payloads.
Boeing’s 702 will continue to be popular in the satellite market, serving both government and commercial users. Boeing continues to demonstrate innovative new features on its satellites, such as electric propulsion. While sales of electric-propulsion satellites have been lower than expected, Boeing expects sales to pick up as the technology is proven.