The Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. (Yahsat), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mubadala Development Co., has awarded a contract to a joint team of Astrium and Thales Alenia Space to build their $1.66 B dual satellite communications system ready for a launch in the second half of 2010.

The Yahsat satellite communications system includes two large satellites, with an operational life estimated at 15 years, as well as the associated ground infrastructure.

Yahsat will provide customers with innovative solutions for broadcasting services, Internet trunking via satellite, corporate data networks and backhauling services to telecom operators. The satellites will fulfill the satellite communication requirements of both government and commercial customers in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South West Asia. The system is designed to accommodate the trends of emerging applications in the satellite industry like HDTV and other broadband satellite services.

Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, COO of Mubadala and chairman of Yahsat, commented, "Demand for satellite communications capacity is booming in the Middle East and North Africa, and this demand is predicted to grow exponentially. This is the first time that a government in the region has openly backed such a substantial venture in the satellite communications industry. It sends out a powerful message about Abu Dhabi's emerging role as global technology hot-spot."