WASHINGTON — Emirati satellite operator Yahsat has selected SpaceX to launch a pair of geostationary communications satellites that are part of a $1.1 billion program.

Yahsat announced July 1 that it chose SpaceX to launch its Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites in 2027 and 2028, respectively, on Falcon 9 rockets. The companies did not disclose the value of the launch contract.

Yahsat finalized a contract to Airbus Defence and Space in June to build the two satellites after starting design work on the spacecraft a year earlier. The spacecraft are using the Eurostar Neo bus and will provide broadband services for the Middle East, Europe and Asia, replacing Al Yah 1 and 2.

“Through the successful completion of the launch contracts with SpaceX and the recently announced design and manufacturing contract with Airbus, Yahsat is well placed to pursue the final contract with the UAE Government, the anchor customer of the Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 program, as part of its largest ever mandate received in its history from the UAE Government,” said Ali Al Hashemi, group chief executive officer of Yahsat, in a statement.

The government of the United Arab Emirates selected Yahsat for a $5.1 billion deal in September 2023 to provide broadband services until at least 2043 using the new satellites. The agreement included a $1 billion advance payment in 2024 to fund the satellites, launch, ground infrastructure and insurance.

Yahsat did not disclose why it selected SpaceX or what other companies they considered for the satellites. By 2027 several other vehicles that today are still in development or just entering service should be available, including Arianespace’s Ariane 6, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H3 and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur. However, those vehicles will also be working through backlogs of commercial and government contracts that may limit their ability to take on new business then.

The June contract for Al Yah 4 and 5 included two low Earth orbit satellites based on the Arrow bus by Airbus, which Al Hashemi said at the time would support Yahsat’s “future direction of providing multi-orbit satellite solutions to its customers.” The company has not disclosed launch plans for those LEO satellites.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...