Koreasat 7 and 5A Thales Alenia Space

WASHINGTON — South Korean satellite operator KT Sat inked a pre-launch customer in Mongolia that will lease approximately an eighth of the total capacity on the operator’s next satellite.

KT Sat announced June 14 that DDish TV, Mongolia’s sole direct-to-home television broadcaster, signed a multi-transponder lease for Koreasat-5A, a Ku-band satellite from Thales Alenia Space expected to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by year’s end.

In an email to SpaceNews, KT Sat said DDish TV will be using 12.5 percent of the capacity on the satellite to distribute 130 channels, and that the broadcaster may eventually require more.

“As DDish TV plans to expand its channels, the number of channels KT Sat would broadcast for DDish TV would also increase to more than 200 channels,” the company said.

Formed in 2008, DDish TV has an estimated 330,000 subscribers. Mongolia has a population of just under 3 million as of 2015, according to World Bank estimates.

“Our goal is to strengthen our market leadership in the satellite broadcasting service with premium high definition channels and high quality service using high power satellite,” Bars Ganbold, DDish TV CEO, said in a June 14 statement. 

DDish is branding its group of transponders as Mongolsat, which it plans to use for both broadcast and VSAT broadband services.

Koreasat-5A is the second of two satellites KT Sat has launching this year. The first, Koreasat-7, launched May 4 on an Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite covers the Korean peninsula, Indochina, India, Indonesia and the Philippines with a Ku-band payload and a steerable Ka-band beam.

Koreasat-5A is a replacement for Koreasat-5, which launched in 2006 on a Sea Launch Zenit rocket. The satellite’s coverage overlaps with Koreasat-7 for the Korean peninsula, the Philippines and much of Indochina, while also expanding coverage in Japan, Guam and East Asia. Thales Alenia Space is the manufacturer for both satellites.

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...