Sunday, November 22, 2015

Israeli Company Loses Contact with Its Amos 5 Satellite

A rendering of the Amos 5 satellite. Image Credit: Andrzej Olchawa/Wikimedia Commons

The Israeli company Spacecom Communications Ltd. announced on Saturday, Nov. 21, that it had lost contact with its Amos 5 satellite. The Russian-built spacecraft ceased to send signals at about 11:45 p.m. on Nov. 20 (4:45 GMT on Nov. 21). Spacecom said it had been unable to reestablish contact with the satellite and had not yet determined the cause of the loss.

“At the moment, the company does not have information as to the nature of the problem that caused the connection to be lost. So far, the company has not succeeded in resuming its connection with the satellite,” the company said in a statement.

Amos 5 was launched into space atop a Proton-M booster on Dec. 11, 2011 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was sent into a geostationary orbit (GEO), inclined 17 degrees East.

The satellite provided coverage over Africa, Europe and the Middle East. It was dedicated mostly to clients in Africa, as well as to other companies including Orange and several Israeli clients. It offered direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, VSAT communications and broadband Internet, telephony services, data trunking, cellular backhaul and video distribution.

The satellite features a fixed pan-African C-band beam and three steerable Ku-band beams — all covering Africa with connectivity to Europe and the Middle East and supporting multiple transponders in both C-band and Ku-band.

The spacecraft is based on the Express-1000H bus. It weighs nearly two tons. Its payload was provided by Thales Alenia Space.

Amos 5 was designed to be operational for 15 years. However, it was plagued with a series of faults since the launch and the company announced earlier that it may not remain in service as long as initially planned.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the loss of contact with the Amos 5 satellite resulted in the loss of about a third of Spacecom's revenues. The spacecraft is worth about $153 million.

The company assured that the satellite is insured and even if it fails completely, the effect on its shareholders' equity will be negligible.

“The Company wishes to clarify, based on the preliminary examinations it carried out, that even if there will be a ‘total loss’ of the satellite, this would have a negligible effect on the equity of the company,” Spacecom said in a statement.

The four earlier Amos satellites were built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The first Amos spacecraft was launched on May 16, 1996 by the Ariane 44L booster from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The company plans to send another satellite in the series in 2016. It will be built by IAI and is slated to be delivered into orbit by SpaceX flagship Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Headquartered in Ramat Gan, Israel, Spacecom is a communications satellite operator in the Middle East, European Union and North America. Spacecom's controlling shareholder is Eurocom, Israel's largest privately owned communication group, with additional shareholders including Mer Services Group, General Satellite Services Co. (GSSC), The Phoenix Holdings Ltd and Exellence Investments Ltd.

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