Israeli satellite Amos-17 was successfully blasted into space overnight Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
President Reuven Rivlin hailed the successful launch, saying it was a “morning full of pride,” and thanking those involved for their “important work for the State of Israel.”
The launch was originally planned for last weekend, but was delayed due to a possibly defective piece of equipment on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which carried the craft into space. Spacecom, which designed the satellite, said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Friday that the launch was delayed due to a suspected faulty valve discovered during testing of the rocket.
The launch of the Amos-17, the firm’s newest and “most advanced” satellite, to provide services over Africa, was scheduled to take place almost three years after Spacecom lost its Amos-6 satellite in an explosion on the launchpad of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in September 2016.
The satellite was built by aerospace firm Boeing according to designs and specifications of the Ramat Gan-based Spacecom, also known as Space-Communication Ltd.
Spacecom is a supplier of satellite services to satellite TV operators, internet and telephone providers, governments and private data companies. The firm, which started operations in 1993, has launched satellites deployed around the globe.
Successful deployment of AMOS-17 confirmed! pic.twitter.com/4VPbhnkF7O
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 6, 2019
The $250 million Amos-17 weighs 6.5 tons and will be the length of three buses, or some 35 meters (115 feet) long, once its wing-like solar panels are deployed in space. Fifty-five percent of its weight is due to the fuel it will carry, to enable it to reach its designated spot over Africa.
The satellite is expected to operate for 20 years and provide services to customers in Africa. The firm has already received orders for services for a total of $58 million, said the firm in a statement.
Africa is a huge continent with the fastest growing population in the world, forecast to reach 2.5 billion in 2050, said Eran Shapiro, director of business and technology ventures at Spacecom, at a press conference last month. It also has the highest percentage of young people, with about half of its current population under 18. The continent has a growing demand for content, with the number of households using digital TV growing some 20% year over year to 2022.
The continent, however, suffers from a lack of internet access infrastructure and has vast areas that are either underserved or completely not connected to any communication infrastructure.
“So the opportunity is clear,” said Shapiro. To get connectivity via the Amos-17 satellite, locals can set up a simple solar-powered terminal.
The satellite will be the first over Africa that will provide high-throughput satellite services (HTS) as well as C-band frequencies, which allow high availability of service, Shapiro said. It will be suited to the African climate and send a single beam per country, as opposed to numerous narrow beams provided by other common HTS satellites. Its digital payload will provide higher service availability and easier customer adaptation and expansion, the company said, and will be able to adapt to existing C-Band terminals on the ground, so there will be no need to upgrade equipment.
After its launch Amos-17 will travel in space for 11 days until it reaches its destined location, and it will take two days to deploy all of its antennas and solar panels. It will orbit the earth at a distance of 36,000 kilometers (22,360 miles), and at a speed of 11,000 kph.