Thursday, July 18, 2024

SpaceX to Launch Yahsat’s New Geostationary Satellites

SpaceX has been selected by the Emirati satellite operator Yahsat to launch two advanced geostationary communications satellites, Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5, as part of a $1.1 billion program.

The launches are scheduled for 2027 and 2028 and will utilize SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. This selection marks a significant step in Yahsat’s plan to enhance its satellite communications capabilities.

Details of the procurement program

The agreement is an integral part of the AY4 and AY5 procurement program, which has a projected cost of AED3.9 billion ($1.06 billion). This budget encompasses the cost of the spacecraft, ground segment infrastructure, launch services, and insurance. The UAE Government’s larger mandate of AED18.7 billion ($5.1 billion), awarded to Yahsat in Q3 2023, includes this procurement as a core component for providing satellite communications capacity and managed services for 17 years.

Yahsat finalized a contract with Airbus Defence and Space in June to design and manufacture the two satellites based on the Eurostar Neo platform. This move is part of Yahsat’s strategy to provide multi-orbit satellite solutions. Ali Al Hashemi, group chief executive officer of Yahsat, stated, “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.”

Satellite Capabilities and Services

The Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites are designed to offer secure governmental communications across a wide geographical area, including the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. They will replace the older Al Yah 1 and Al Yah 2 satellites, which were launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively. These new satellites will ensure continued and enhanced broadband services in these regions.

In addition to the geostationary satellites, Yahsat’s June contract with Airbus included the construction of two low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites based on the Arrow bus by Airbus. These LEO satellites will support Yahsat’s future direction of providing multi-orbit satellite solutions to its customers.

Reasons for Selecting SpaceX

While Yahsat did not disclose the specific reasons for selecting SpaceX, it is evident that SpaceX’s reliable track record with the Falcon 9 played a significant role. By 2027, several other launch vehicles currently in development or just entering service, such as Arianespace’s Ariane 6, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H3, and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur, are expected to be available. However, these vehicles will likely be occupied with existing backlogs of commercial and government contracts, potentially limiting their availability for new business.

Ali Al Hashemi expressed his confidence in the partnership with SpaceX, stating, “We are proud to collaborate with SpaceX on the upcoming Falcon 9 launches of our Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 satellites.”

Broader Impact and Future Prospects

The successful deployment of Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 will significantly bolster Yahsat’s capacity to provide advanced satellite communications services. This initiative aligns with Yahsat’s long-term vision of enhancing its satellite fleet to meet the growing demand for secure and reliable communication solutions.

As Yahsat continues to innovate and expand its satellite capabilities, the collaboration with SpaceX and Airbus positions the company to remain at the forefront of satellite communications technology. The launch of these new satellites will not only enhance connectivity across vast regions but also support the UAE Government’s strategic objectives in space and telecommunications.

By leveraging SpaceX’s proven launch capabilities, Yahsat is poised to deliver on its ambitious goals, ensuring the continued provision of high-quality satellite services to its customers for years to come.

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