Boeing Co. said Thursday that it has signed a contract to build at least four satellites for telecommunications giant Intelsat Ltd., a deal that could preserve jobs at the company's El Segundo campus and create work for local suppliers.

Ken Lee, Intelsat's senior vice president for space systems, declined to give a value for the contract during a midday conference call and said earler media reports that it could be worth as much as $1 billion were incorrect. Boeing has sold 33 satellites to Intelsat over the years.

This is the first order for the Chicago aircraft maker and defense contractor's 702B satellite series, which aims to offer affordable spacecraft that operate in the medium-level power ranges and is relatively easy to manufacture and assemble. The company will continue to market its 702 model for higher end uses.

"We've been developing this variant of our Boeing 702 satellite for more than four years, incorporating low-risk, proven technologies that differentiate the Boeing 702B from our competitors' spacecraft," Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, said in a statement.

Boeing employs roughly 5,500 at its Space and Intelligence Systems headquarters in the El Segundo area. In the last year, 319 people in the division either took buyouts or were laid off, mostly in El Segundo and Seal Beach, due to a drop in the company's defense industry business.

During the conference call, Cooning said the company didn't expect to add jobs for at least the next couple of years, but that the new contract would help preserve current positions.

Boeing this week said it likely would have to lay off 1,000 people in another defense-related division.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.