Arianespace, the world’s leading commercial satellite launcher, has signed a contract with Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. to launch two broadcasting satellites for a Japanese company, Jean-Marie Luton, chairman of Arianespace said Thursday.

Orbital Sciences Corp., a satellite manufacturer, will make the two broadcasting satellites — BSAT-2a and BSAT-2b — for the B-SAT Corp., an NHK affiliate.

Arianespace plans to launch the satellites in 2000 and 2001 with satellite rockets — Ariane 4 or Ariane 5 — from a space center in French Guiana. It remains to be seen which type of rocket will be used for the satellites, Luton said.

“This contract bolsters Arianespace’s position in the Asia-Pacific market, since it marks the 15th and 16th satellites to be launched for Japan,” Luton told a press conference in Tokyo.

Arianespace has concluded contracts for 16 of 22 satellites that have been contracted for the Japanese commercial market since 1986.

Arianespace is a joint venture established in France in 1980 and has 53 organizational shareholders in 12 European countries. The firm has launched 158 satellites.

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