Arianespace wins Australian broadband satellite contract

European satellite launch company Arianespace was Monday selected by Australia to send rockets into orbit to help bring broadband to the country's remote Outback.

Arianespace, backed by the European Space Agency, won a contract worth up to US$300 million following a two-year procurement process to fire Australia's National Broadband Network satellites into space.

The massive Aus$35.9 billion network is the largest infrastructure project in Australia's history and aims to connect 90 percent of homes, including remote settlements, with access to fast Internet by 2017.

Arianespace chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall said his company was proud to be part of such an ambitious project.

"Arianespace has led the launch services industry with many operational firsts and numerous record-setting missions," he said.

Two purpose-built communications satellites, currently under construction in California, will lift off aboard two 777 tonne Ariane 5 heavy-lift rockets which will deliver the payloads into orbit.

The launches from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana are scheduled to take place in 2015 and will allow access to fast Internet to up to 200,000 remote homes at speeds people in the city currently take for granted.