Dubai Firm Says Satellite Still Set for 2012 Launch

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  Space News Business

Dubai Firm Says Satellite Still Set for 2012 Launch

By PETER B. de SELDING
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 23 September 2008
05:27 pm ET






PARIS
— Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based S2M Group insists that its S2M-1 S-band mobile communications satellite is on track for a late-2010 launch despite questions about whether the satellite is in fact under construction at Space Systems/Loral.

Wejdi
Harzallah, vice president of commercial operations at S2M, said the company plans to begin a pilot service using ground-based transmitters late this year in preparation for an early commercial service, also relying on terrestrial gear only, in mid-2009.

Harzallah
said S2M will be using the 26 degrees east orbital position whose frequencies originally were registered by the Arabsat consortium of
,
Saudi Arabia
.

He also acknowledged that S2M has not completed the necessary frequency coordination with other satellite operators nearby. However, those will be fully coordinated “by the end of this year,” he said, adding that S2M has no intention of covering
.

Also unannounced is a list of S2M strategic investors. Harzallah said the company is in the process of closing financial commitments with three nations, which he declined to name.

S2M previously has announced contracts with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral for construction of S2M-1, and with International Launch Services (ILS) of
Reston
,
, for the satellite’s launch in 2010 aboard a Proton-M rocket. But the satellite builder, a division of publicly traded Loral Space and Communications of New York, has not placed S2M on its list of contracted backlog.

Industry officials have speculated that S2M, if its financing is committed, may be a candidate to use the CMBStar satellite that Loral has built for EchoStar Corp. of
Littleton
,
Colo.

EchoStar
had planned the satellite, which like S2M-1 was designed to use S-band frequencies for mobile communications, as part of a Chinese venture. But the Chinese partners have since had second thoughts. EchoStar officials say they are reviewing their options for CMBStar.

“Liquidity is not lacking in the
Middle East
,” Harzallah said. “We are not looking for financial investors,” but rather at strategic investors, including telecommunications operators, who would purchase S2M capacity wholesale and resell it to their existing customers.