1st Yahsat Satellite Launch Postponed until Early 2011

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The launch of Yahsat 1A, the first of two high-powered satellites for Abu Dhabi’s Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. (Yahsat), has been delayed to early 2011, with the second, all-Ka-band Yahsat 1B slated for late 2011, Yahsat Chief Technical Officer Martin S. Gee said Dec. 7.

In a presentation at the Global Space Technology Forum held in Abu Dhabi, Gee said Yahsat, a startup operator backed by the Abu Dhabi government’s investment arm, Mubadala, is ahead of its internal schedule in prelaunch sales of C-band capacity on Yahsat 1A, to be operated from 52.5 degrees east.

Yahsat 1A and Yahsat 1B are under construction by a consortium led by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space, both of Europe, as part of a $1.66 billion contract that includes the delivery of both satellites into orbit, plus the associated ground network.

Yahsat 1A will carry 14 C-band transponders, eight with 36 megahertz of power and six with 54 megahertz. The C-band will be aimed at markets in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The satellite will also carry 25 Ku-band transponders, enough to broadcast 150 standard-definition digital television channels or 50 high-definition channels. It is being commercialized by a joint venture, called YahLive, of Yahsat and SES of Luxembourg.

YahSat 1A is also being equipped with an unannounced amount of Ka-band capacity to be reserved for military and other government users. Yahsat 1A will deliver 11.6 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its 15-year service life.

Gee said Yahsat has not settled on an orbital position for Yahsat 1B, which will be fitted with an all-Ka-band payload for both commercial and government use. The satellite will provide 9.7 kilowatts of power to the payload, which includes 56 spot beams for commercial service. Gee said the Yahsat system will provide 15 gigabits per second of Ka-band capacity for both government and commercial markets in the Middle East and Africa.

For commercial YahClick Ka-band service — providing broadband links to businesses and consumers — Yahsat will have a global beam, a beam over the territories of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, and a steerable beam.

Yahsat in October signed a $46 million contract with ViaSat Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., to provide four network gateways, a network control center and an initial batch of user terminals.