Intelsat Buys Amos-1 Satellite Amid Flat Global Market

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  Space News Business

Intelsat Buys Amos-1 Satellite Amid Flat Global Market

By PETER B. de SELDING
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 27 August 2009
12:09 pm ET






Company says Spacecraft is in an Inclined Orbit but Healthy Enough To Serve Customer’s Requirements

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — The chief executive of satellite fleet operator Intelsat says the global commercial satellite market is flat, with pockets of price increases for C-band capacity in Africa and Ku-band in the Middle East offset by downward price pressure in North America and unchanged prices in Europe.

In an Aug. 12 conference call, Intelsat Chief Executive David McGlade also said Intelsat has purchased the Amos-1 satellite from Israel Aerospace Industries and is moving it to an Intelsat slot over the
Indian Ocean
as part of a specific contract.

McGlade
said Amos-1, which was launched in May 1996, is in inclined orbit but is healthy enough to serve the requirements of a customer that will make immediate use of it. Satellites in inclined orbit no longer are stabilized on their north-south axis, meaning ground users generally need larger antennas to communicate with the spacecraft.

Amos-1 carries nine Ku-band transponders and had been operated by Spacecom of Israel at 4 degrees west. McGlade said the satellite will be renamed Intelsat 24.

Intelsat spokeswoman Dianne J. VanBeber said Aug. 13 that the company’s purchase of Amos-1 was completed just recently, and that the satellite has begun its drift to its new location. She declined to name the customer for the satellite, but said Amos-1 has enough fuel to continue inclined-orbit operations for another three years or so.

Intelsat continues to carry contracts signed before the former intergovernmental organization was privatized in 2001. As these contracts expire, McGlade said, Intelsat is requiring customers to renew at current market rates. It is one way the company can report higher revenue figures even if transponder lease prices globally are flat.

Intelsat has three launches scheduled aboard vehicles procured through Sea Launch Co. of Long Beach,
Calif.
, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court. McGlade said Intelsat is working with Sea Launch and with the court to assure the $100 million in advance launch payments Intelsat has made to Sea Launch is used to procure the vehicles and not for other purposes under Sea Launch’s court-administered reorganization.

The Intelsat IS 15 satellite is scheduled for launch aboard a Land Launch rocket late this year.

Sea Launch Co. is the marketing representative for Land Launch operations, which occur from the Russian-run BaikonurCosmodrome in
Kazakhstan
. While the vehicle is basically the same rocket that Sea Launch uses for its
Pacific Ocean
operations, Land Launch and Sea Launch have different ownership.

Intelsat’s
IS 14 satellite, which had been set for a mid-2009 launch aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket, has slipped to October because the Atlas launch slot has been taken by a higher-priority
U.S.
government launch, McGlade said.

Bermuda- and Washington-based Intelsat reported a 9.8 percent increase in revenue, to $642.5 million, for the three months ending June 30 compared to the same period a year ago. Backlog at June 30 stood at $9.5 billion, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier. The company’s satellite fill rate remained at about 85 percent.

The revenue figure included $21.9 million from Intelsat’s resale of a launch services contract. The company registered costs associated with the sale of $13 million. Intelsat officials have said they will no longer engage in the practice of purchasing launch contracts for eventual resale.

McGlade
said that despite the Sea Launch bankruptcy and the questions it raises about Sea Launch’s near-term availability, “today we have more commitments and options for launches than we have satellites to be launched. This will aid us in mitigating cost or schedule issues.”

Intelsat has 11 satellites under construction and scheduled for launch in the next three years and has said its capital spending in 2009 would be between $625 million and $675 million as it makes milestone satellite construction and launch payments.