JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israeli satellite operator Space Communications said on Wednesday it would launch a new telecommunications satellite in 2019 after losing a prior one in an explosion.

Spacecom said it was buying a satellite from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million.

The new satellite, Amos-17, is aimed at expanding and strengthening Spacecom’s coverage of growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, it said.

Amos-17 is designed to operate for more than 15 years.

“It will be a catalyst for Spacecom’s growth plans over the next decade,” the company said in a statement.

Spacecom last year lost contact with its Amos-5 satellite, which was launched in 2011 and provided coverage to clients in Africa.

It had planned to launch Amos-6 on Sept. 3 but two days before the scheduled launch an explosion destroyed both the satellite and a Falcon 9 rocket belonging to Elon Musk’s SpaceX during preparations for a routine test firing at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Amos-6 was going to be used by Facebook to expand Internet access in Africa.

Spacecom is in negotiations to be sold to Beijing Xinwei Technology Group, which in August said its planned $285 million bid was conditional on the successful launch of Amos-6.

Beijing Xinwei said last month the purchase price had been lowered to about $190 million.

Israel’s Eurocom Holdings owns 64 percent of Spacecom, whose shares were up 3.6 percent in afternoon trading in Tel Aviv but are down some 70 percent since Amos-6 was destroyed.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Mark Potter)