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THE Astrium satellite firm, which has a base in Portsmouth, has been named as the primary contractor for both a new satellite and its launcher.

The Astra 2F satellite, commissioned by SES, is scheduled for launch from the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on Friday.

The firm has been adapting the Ariane 5 ECA launcher to enable this latest satellite to launch, as each satellite is different.

The Astra 2F telecommunications satellite is the 28th Eurostar E3000 satellite built by Astrium and the first in a series of four satellites ordered together from SES in late 2009.

The satellite’s payload – the equipment which enables it to perform its functions in space – was built at Astrium’s site in Broad Oak, Portsmouth.

The next satellite, Astra 2E, has been integrated and is undergoing its final tests at Astrium’s Toulouse site, while the following two, Astra 5B and Astra 2G, are in the process of being built, as is SES-6, a fifth satellite ordered by SES from Astrium.

On this particular launch, the ECA version of the Ariane 5 launcher will deliver two telecommunications satellites.

If all goes to plan, the two launches will be Ariane 5’s 51st and 52nd consecutive successful launch.