Eutelsat-25b/Es'hail-1 SSL
Eutelsat-25b/Es'hail-1, now just Es'hail-1. Credit: SSL

WASHINGTON — French fleet operator Eutelsat sold a jointly-owned satellite to partner Es’hailSat of Qatar, growing Es’hailSat’s in-orbit capacity as the company awaits the launch of its second satellite late this year on a Falcon 9 rocket.

The 135 million euro ($156.1 million) transaction gives Es’hailSat, which already shared the Eutelsat-25B/Es’hail-1 satellite, full ownership, Eutelsat said Aug. 8.

Eutelsat-25B/Es’hail-1 launched in August 2013 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, and ushered Qatar into the crowd of Middle Eastern satellite operators, joining Nilesat of Egypt, Arabsat of Saudi Arabia, Yahsat of the UAE and Spacecom of Israel. The SSL-built satellite carries Ku- and Ka-band capacity for television broadcasting and connectivity services in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Eutelsat spokesperson Marie-Sophie Ecuer told SpaceNews by email the sale gives 15 transponders to Es’hailSat, what she described as “a minority of the satellite.” She declined to state the total number of transponders on the satellite.

Es’hailSat did not immediately respond to SpaceNews requests for comment.

In a statement announcing the sale, Eutelsat said the transaction has no impact on the company’s revenue objectives, which include a return to “slight” growth next year.

“The divestment of this non-core asset is in line with Eutelsat’s strategy of optimising its portfolio of businesses in the context of its policy of maximizing cash generation,” the company said.

Es’hail-1 operates at 25.5 degrees east, an orbital slot for which Es’hailSat had to negotiate with Arabsat for spectrum rights prior to launch. Eutelsat generated 16 million euros from television broadcasts with the satellite this fiscal year, the company said.

Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is expected to drive regional demand for satellite bandwidth.

In 2014, Es’hailSat purchased its second satellite, Es’hail-2, from Mitsubishi Electric, marking a rare international win for the Japanese satellite manufacturer. Es’hailSat said Aug. 1 via Twitter that the satellite is expected to launch during the fourth quarter of this year. Originally expected to launch in 2016, Es’hail-2 was delayed by late revisions to the spacecraft and Falcon 9 failures in 2015 and 2016.

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...