Japanese satellite operator SKY Perfect JSAT has contracted Airbus to develop a fully digital in-orbit reconfigurable telecommunications satellite.

Dubbed the Superbird-9, the new satellite will be based on Airbus’ standardised OneSat product line.

Under this contract, the manufacturer will provide a turnkey solution, including spacecraft design and manufacture, related services, in-orbit operations and ground segment support.

Airbus will also deliver an advanced digital suite to manage the digital payload and operate the satellite resources.

OneSat will equip SKY Perfect JSAT to replace a key broadcasting mission and simultaneously provide fully flexible high-throughput satellite (HTS) services with enhanced performance and experience.

Airbus space system head Jean-Marc Nasr said: “This is a landmark contract for Airbus in Japan and it marks the first time a Japanese telecommunications operator has ordered a satellite from Europe.

“SKY Perfect JSAT’s choice of Airbus to build Superbird-9 to strengthen its satellite fleet is a great endorsement of the cutting-edge technology at the heart of our OneSat design.

“Superbird-9, the 7th software-defined OneSat satellite ordered, will deliver powerful performance and a groundbreaking experience for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation customers. I hope that this contract will pave the way for close future collaboration.”

Scheduled for launch in 2024, the Superbird-9 will deliver broadcast and broadband missions in Ku-band, primarily across Japan and Eastern Asia.

SKY Perfect JSAT has a fleet of 18 satellites and provides multi-channel pay TV broadcasting and satellite communications services in Japan.

The company expects estimates the total investment on this project to be $274m (JPY30bn).

Earlier this month, the European Commission (EC) selected Airbus to explore the feasibility of spacecraft manufacturing in space.