European space company Astrium has received two contracts from Russian Satellite Communications (RSCC) to build two telecommunication satellites, Express AM4R and Express AM7, as part of its planned nine-satellite mission.

Astrium will build the two satellites based on the Eurostar E3000 platform and a Khrunichev-built Proton launcher.

Express AM4R is the alternate satellite which will replace Express AM4, a high power communications satellite, which was lost due to a launch failure in August last year.

The alternate satellite, which will carry 36 C-band, 28 Ku-band, three L-band and two Ka-band transponders, will be launched in early 2014 and will operate at 80°E on the geostationary orbit.

Astrium’s Express AM7 is a new satellite featuring similar design and a payload supporting a mission at 40°E to extend RSCC capacity at that position, and carries 62 active transponders communications payload, which include 24 in C-band, 36 in Ku-band, two in L-band.

It will provide 16kw to its payload at the end of a planned 15-year life and is estimated to weigh about 5,700kg at launch.

Following the launch, both satellites will offer enhanced performance coverage over the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries.

The satellites will be equipped with steerable antennas, which will provide communication to any point on Earth within the visibility area.

RSCC is planning to launch nine satellites to replace the current capacity and to broaden its coverage.

For the remaining eight satellites, RSCC is purchasing satellite hardware from suppliers, comprising Russia’s ISS Reshetnev, Canada’s MDA, and Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, as well as Astrium Satellites.