WASHINGTON — Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has begun offering telecom services with a satellite it borrowed from AsiaSat in December to fill the void left by the loss of Amos-6, the operator said today.
Amos-6, a 5,500-kilogram satellite built by Israel Aerospace Industries to serve Africa, Europe and the Middle East, was destroyed in September when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised to carry it to orbit exploded during a fueling test. In December, Spacecom signed an $88 million agreement with Hong Kong-based AsiaSat to utilize the Ku-band capacity on AsiaSat-8, AsiaSat’s newest satellite, for at least four years. AsiaSat relocated the satellite from 105.5 degrees east, where it covered China and neighboring countries, to 4 degrees west to cover Africa, Europe and the Middle East alongside Spacecom’s Amos-3 satellite.
Spacecom rebranded the 24 Ku-band transponders and four steerable beams as Amos-7. The satellite functions as a quickly needed replacement, since Amos-6 was supposed to take the place of Amos-2, a satellite launched in 2003. In a Feb. 27 statement, Spacecom said Amos-2 is reaching its end of life.
“AMOS-7 creates a stronger presence at our 4 [degrees west] orbital position,” Jacob Keret, co-founder and senior vice president of sales at Spacecom, said in a prepared statement. “Adding further redundancy to our system, the satellite is a key element in expanding our multi-regional growth patterns and enhancing the array of communications – broadcast, broadband and data – that we can provide.”
Spacecom currently operates a fleet of three telecom satellites: Amos-7 and Amos-3 at the 4 degrees west slot, and Amos-4 at 65 degrees east. The operator has the option with AsiaSat to continue using AsiaSat-8 for an additional year included in its contract.
In addition to leasing AsiaSat-8, Spacecom ordered a new satellite in December from Boeing in a $161 million deal that closed without financing help from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
The satellite, dubbed Amos-17 based on its orbital location over Africa, Europe and the Middle east, is intended to replace Amos-5, a four-year old satellite that suffered a fatal power failure during in 2015. Amos-17 is being built to provide significantly higher throughput capacity than Amos-5, which was built by Russia’s ISS Reshetnev with a payload supplied by Europe’s Thalia Alenia Space.