3 New Contracts Put Hughes on a Hot Streak : Aerospace: Firm wins $1 billion in satellite jobs in three days and hopes there’ll be more soon.
Hughes Aircraft Co., fresh from winning $1 billion of commercial-satellite contracts in just three days, says it hopes to announce more such awards in the near future.
Providing one of the few bright spots in Southern California’s otherwise dreary aerospace industry, Hughes said the three contracts expand its satellite order backlog by 33%, to $4 billion. That will keep about 5,000 workers busy at Hughes’ Space and Communications Co. division in El Segundo.
For Hughes, the biggest and most significant of last week’s three awards was signed in Bombay, India. Hughes agreed to provide two satellites and related ground equipment, valued at $700 million, for hand-held telephone communications in India, other parts of Asia and all of Africa.
The contract was signed with Afro-Asian Satellite Communications Ltd., a company sponsored by India’s Essel Group, a closely held provider of satellite-television services.
Steven D. Dorfman, president of Hughes’ telecommunications and space operations, said the service will resemble a regional version of the worldwide mobile-telephone satellite systems now on the drawing boards at several companies, including the Iridium system planned by a group led by Motorola Inc.
Also last week, Hughes agreed to build a seventh Astra satellite for Societe Europeenne des Satellites to extend its TV and radio broadcasts to more of Europe. Hughes also will start building a second communications satellite as a backup for Malaysia’s first satellite, MEASAT-1, which is scheduled for launch in December.
Hughes expects to make “more announcements in the next few weeks” concerning satellite-based contracts, although the company for now remains “in a number of tough competitions around the world” for new programs, Dorfman said in a telephone interview.
The mobile-communications contract in India is part of an effort by Hughes, a unit of General Motors Corp., to apply its satellite expertise to new endeavors.
Last year, for instance, Hughes launched its direct satellite-to-home TV service, called DirecTv, and it announced plans for Spaceway, a $3-billion project that would offer global high-speed transmissions of data, video and voice communications by the year 2000.