Satellite operator Arabsat has contracted aerospace and defence company Airbus to build a new generation telecommunications satellite.

The BADR-8 satellite will be created on the advanced Airbus Eurostar Neo electric orbit raising platform.

It will feature TELEO optical communications payload demonstrator and enhance Arabsat’s capacity.

Airbus space systems head Jean-Marc Nasr said: “This important contract with our long-standing customer Arabsat has a special significance for Airbus Defence and Space.

“It is the first seventh-generation Arabsat satellite and the first Eurostar Neo satellite we are building for Arabsat after six previous Eurostar satellites.

“BADR-8 incorporates the best of our expertise and technologies, including a very innovative optical communication-hosted payload.

“This further strengthens our continuing strategic partnership with the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation, which has been connecting people by satellite across the Middle East and the world for more than 40 years.”

Scheduled for launch in 2023, the satellite’s electric propulsion system will power it to reach geostationary orbit in four to five months based on launcher type.

The BADR-8 has approximately 4.5t launch mass and 17kW in power. It will join BADR-network at Arabsat 26°E hotspot and be in service in orbit for more than 15 years.

Airbus Defence and Space has three fully electric satellites operational in orbit and 15 fully electric high-capacity telecommunications satellites under construction.

In July, Australian operator Optus awarded a contract to Airbus Defence and Space for a fully reconfigurable telecommunications satellite.