Amos-3 satellite, successfully launched April 28, is the first of as many as four new telecommunications spacecraft that Israeli satellite-fleet operator Spacecom hopes to deploy
in the next four years, Spacecom Chief Executive David Pollack said.
The launch of Amos-3 also adds to the reputation of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) as a builder of satellites whose launch mass is unusually small when matched against their performance in orbit.
The 1,270-kilogram Amos-3, launched aboard the inaugural flight of a Land Launch vehicle from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, is expected to be guided into its final position at 4 degrees west longitude over the next eight weeks.
Launched directly into geostationary orbit, the $170 million Amos-3 is expected to operate for up to 18 years – six years longer than its heavier predecessor, Amos-2, which was launched in December 2003. The longer life is expected despite the fact that Amos-3 carries 45 percent less on
board fuel than Amos-2.
Amos-3’s payload, built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, weighs 250 kilograms compared to a 160-kilogram payload aboard Amos-2 in what IAI officials say is an example of getting more for less. “In the design-efficiency criterion for communications satellites
accepted in this area – bandwidth per kilogram – Amos-3 will be among the world’s best,” IAI said in a presentation made before the launch.
Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency, said the Amos-3
is among the most advanced commercial satellites anywhere for its size.
Amos-3 will assure
service continuity for users of the Amos-1 satellite, which is already one year past its planned retirement date.
Amos-3 carries 12 72-MHz
Ku-band transponders and two 500-MHz
Ka-band transponders. Its North America fixed Ku-band beam covers the U.S. East Coast, with the two other fixed Ku-band beams covering Europe
and the Middle East. A fixed Ka-band beam covers the Middle East.
Steerable beams are focused on the northeast quadrant of the United States, Britain and parts of France, central Europe and western Russia, and eastern and southern Africa. Pollack said Amos-3 is already
fully booked, including customers that will transfer from Amos-1, and that the company plans to launch three additional satellites in the coming four years. “Within a few short years, we aim to have an operational fleet of five extremely high-performance spacecraft to serve our growing base of customers,” he said.
Spacecom reported 2007 revenue
of $56 million and said its two operating satellites were 90 percent full. The company earlier this year rejected a proposal by the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operator, SES of Luxembourg, to purchase Spacecom’s
existing satellites – with the exception of Amos-4, under construction by IAI – and the rights to its
4 degrees west orbital position
Amos-4, which has been partly reserved by Israeli military customers, is scheduled for launch in
2012 into an as-yet-undisclosed orbital slot between 64 degrees and 76 degrees east for better coverage of Asia.
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