Spacecom returns to SpaceX for one, possibly two launches

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Updated Oct. 19, 2017 at 11:48 a.m. Eastern.

WASHINGTON — Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has agreed to launch its next satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX in 2019, and will likely launch a second satellite on another Falcon 9 in 2020.

In a statement provided to SpaceNews Oct. 18, Spacecom said it “will use full credits from AMOS-6’s unfulfilled September 2016 launch to fully cover AMOS-17’s launch fees.” Another statement, given to the Israeli stock exchange the same day, said the 2019 mission could launch on a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket.

Amos-6 was destroyed when its Falcon 9 launcher exploded during preparation for a static fire test two days before liftoff. Spacecom agreed to have the satellite atop the rocket to save time between testing and launch.

Amos-17, an Africa-focused telecommunications satellite being built by Boeing Satellite Systems International to last 19 years, is a replacement for a different satellite — Amos-5. Spacecom lost the ISS-Reshetnev-built Amos-5 satellite in 2015 to a power glitch  just four years into its mission.

Since February, Spacecom has been borrowing AsiaSat-8 from Hong Kong fleet operator AsiaSat. The $22 million-a-year placeholder agreement is good for four years, with the option to renew for a fifth.

Spacecom has yet to order its Amos-6 successor, which it is calling Amos-8, but said it has an option with SpaceX to launch the future satellite in the second half of 2020. The company has said that Amos-8 will probably be smaller than the 5,500-kilogram, $161 million Amos-17.

According to the Israeli stock exchange notice, Spacecom will pay the standard price of $62 million for the Amos-8 Falcon 9 launch. Spacecom can also cancel the SpaceX contracts if launch delays exceed an undisclosed amount of time.