Israel may field IAI-built satellite at Amos hotspot, Spacecom says

by

WASHINGTON — The Israeli government has told Spacecom it intends to operate a satellite at the same location as most of Spacecom’s fleet, the Israeli satellite operator said April 30.

Ramat Gan, Israel-based Spacecom told the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange it received a letter from the government stating that a group of agencies might procure a satellite from Israel Aerospace Industries and place it in a geosynchronous orbit at 4 degrees west — the same location as two of Spacecom’s three satellites.

The move by Israel’s government follows Spacecom’s decision late last month to purchase a telecom satellite called Amos-8 from U.S. manufacturer Space Systems Loral.

Spacecom’s own satellite procurement decisions have been caught in a tug of war between the company’s business decisions, which necessitate considering multiple competing offers, and Israel’s desire to maintain a domestic manufacturing capability.

For its past two satellite orders, Spacecom shopped overseas, buying spacecraft from SSL and Boeing.

Lacking in international sales, IAI has sought from the Israeli government what nearly every other manufacturer of large telecom satellites has — steady government demand for satellite orders. An  Israeli government order would suggest IAI’s concerns have not fallen on deaf ears.

Opher Doron, IAI Space Division’s vice president and general manager, told SpaceNews in March that there was “a reasonable chance there will be some interesting development in the coming weeks” regarding an Israeli government decision to support a multi-year plan for domestically produced communications satellites. What that plan would look like and how it would affect Spacecom is unclear.

Also unclear is any effect Israel ordering a satellite will have on Spacecom’s procurement of Amos-8. Spacecom has 60 days from contract signing to cancel its $112 million Amos-8 order without incurring fees. Spacecom and IAI did not respond to SpaceNews inquiries by press time.