LUXEMBOURG, April 22 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced Thursday it was financing the Alphasat telecommunications satellite intended for a 2012 launch date.
The European Commission is using $300 million from the European Union's Risk-Sharing Finance Facility to launch the satellite in 2012.
Alphasat is a joint effort by the European Space Agency and British satellite communications company Inmarsat. It becomes the first satellite using a "next-generation satellite bus" developed by the ESA and French space agency Centre National d'etudes Spatiales, the European Commission said.
The communications satellite extends high-speed voice and data communications to remote European areas, Africa and the Middle East, the European Commission said. Research organizations, maritime, aeronautical and land users will be able to take advantage of the Alphasat's "open access" network.
"This satellite will put European industries in a leading position in this segment and could bring significant spill-over effects for research and innovation in Europe," said European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt.
EIB is giving Inmarsat the $300 million loan for the program.