Satellite operator Spacecom recovering after loss of AMOS-6 plans to launch a number of satellites and to renew its positions on the market. It was presented the road map of Spacecom satellite launches. The first one, AMOS-17, is expected in 2019. It is followed by AMOS-8 in 2020 and AMOS-9 in 2022. In a long-term plans there are more launches to come.
On the Spacecom customers event in Tel Aviv which was amazing as always, Eran Shapiro, Director Business and Technology Operations told the details about existing satellites – AMOS-3, AMOS-4 and AMOS-7. AMOS-17 scheduled to be launched in 2019 to 17˚E orbital position is manufactured by Boeing. It has C/Ku/Ka bands and its target audience are mobile operators in Africa, broadcasters, governmental agencies and broadband service providers. It is built with technology from the US government. It provides in-orbit flexibility in re-assigning spectrum resources, power sharing between beams with dynamic allocation, cross connectivity between all beams and bands.
Jacob Keret, Sr. Vice President Sales mentioned that the company’s strategy is not to compete but to cooperate. Also Mr. Keret mentioned the cooperation with Ukrainian company Ukrkosmos.
Mediasat interviewed Spacecom CEO David Pollack about the last news from the company:
We all know about the sad accident happened to AMOS-6 in 2016, the way you handling the situation attests your strength and responsibility. Tell us, how have you recovered and found the new satellite?
Yes, the explosion which took place on the Cape Canaveral is a bad luck. The satellite was important for our customers in Europe, especially in Ukraine. It was important also because of agreement with Facebook. It was the first time when a multi-beam to Africa was supposed in the location 4˚W, what would make possible this cooperation. We would have been the first satellite to provide that service in Africa due to the newest technologies used within AMOS-6. One of the most important customer in the world – Facebook was waiting for that satellite. So it wasn’t only about the loss of the money, but also the loss of the opportunities to grow. We took a decision to bring another satellite to the 4˚W position just before AMOS-2 finished its life to continue providing our services in Europe. We started to look for the suitable satellite which has term of life enough for us and right frequencies to serve our customers. People, especially in Ukraine, are not flexible with changing frequencies, it’s not easy. We looked through many satellites. It was really difficult to find a suitable one. After a bad luck in September 2016 (an accident with AMOS-6 – Mediasat) we were lucky to find AsiaSat-8. It is a new satellite, which AsiaSat didn’t use for their reasons. We have enough of capacity for our customers.
It became a basis to keep our customers for the future satellites. The satellite will be in this location for 4-5 years then we are to bring it back to AsiaSat and to launch another satellite (AMOS-8) to this position not only to continue our services but also to grow them. We already have started the design, we are speaking to manufacturers.
Will AMOS-17 have the same design as AMOS-6?
It will be very similar to AMOS-6 as it was designed to provide the best service for our customers in Europe. It is suitable mostly for television and data services.
Who will be the launcher of your next satellite? Will it be SpaceX as after unsuccessful lunch you have a possibility of free launch from them or taking money back?
We haven’t decided yet. SpaceX is a good option for us, other launchers are also possible. We had successful launches with Ariane, and with Soyuz and Proton from Baykonur as well. Also I am glad that just a week ago it was a successful launch of American Echostar.
Hasn’t the accident with AMOS-6 influenced your decision to continue cooperation with SpaceX? Do you think it was their fault?
It was very unfortunate what happened. They corrected a few things in order to come back to launch. The American authorities checked it and allowed to renew launches.
What is the Spacecom situation in the market now? How are you going to renew your positions?
In Africa we lost the contract with Facebook, which is not easy to recover from. In Ukraine many customers remain loyal to us, not all of them, but many. We are going to continue our projects in Africa with a new satellite from another orbital position 17˚E (AMOS-17). It will not be the services we planned with AMOS-6, but we are going to become strong in Africa very soon, in 2-3 years, I hope. The launch is expected in 2019 and in a few months we will start to pre sell the capacities.
You have started a project with Ukrkosmos in Ukraine. What can you tell about it?
Yes, we provide our capacities to Ukrkosmos to realize their project. Ukrkosmos will tell better about the details. (More details on Mediasat)
How many orbital positions do you have? How are you going to use them?
We have three actual satellites. Also we have six more positions where we had expected to launch satellites. Unfortunately, it delays with AMOS-6 loss, but we don’t back down/or cease our plans. We have already started climbing again.