Arabsat CEO: Falcon Heavy gives our satellite extra life

COLORADO SPRINGS — Arabsat selected SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to launch its latest satellite tv for pc with a view to give the satellite tv for pc an extended lifespan, Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s chief government, mentioned in an interview with table4.

SpaceX’s launch of the Arabsat-6A communications satellite tv for pc is scheduled for six:35 p.m. Japanese from Area Launch Complicated 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Higher degree winds within the environment scrubbed yesterday’s launch try. The mission is SpaceX’s first with a business Falcon Heavy buyer.

Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat introduced plans to launch with SpaceX in spring 2015, however on the time hadn’t determined between the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. The corporate chosen Falcon Heavy in September for a mission anticipated in late 2017 or 2018.

Balkheyour mentioned Arabsat selected the Falcon Heavy with a view to prolong the lifespan of the Arabsat-6A satellite tv for pc past the 15 years a geostationary communications satellite tv for pc is usually designed to final.

“We wanted extra lifetime for the satellite tv for pc, so we had the choice: Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy, and we determined to go together with Falcon Heavy,” he mentioned.

Arabsat-6A is a big satellite tv for pc, weighing 6,460-kilograms. Balkheyour mentioned preliminary calculations present the satellite tv for pc will get an additional enhance from Falcon Heavy that ought to prolong its life to between 18 and 20 years.

SpaceX skilled delays with the Falcon Heavy that pushed the Arabsat-6A launch to 2019, a setback Balkheyour mentioned was upsetting, however tolerable.

“I don’t thoughts that so long as we get it proper and in orbit with good high quality checks and good well being,” he mentioned.

And the delays weren’t solely SpaceX. Arabsat-6A is simply the second to make use of Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM2100 satellite tv for pc platform, which options over two dozen upgrades, together with new avionics, versatile photo voltaic arrays and a reprogrammable mission processor.

Arabsat was Lockheed Martin’s first buyer for the LM2100, and whereas Balkheyour mentioned Arabsat is impressed with the platform, it felt the necessity to conduct extra testing previous to launch.

“We had been scheduled a few month in the past, [but] we needed to do extra checks and high quality assurance stuff with the satellite tv for pc,” he mentioned.

The primary LM2100, SaudiGeoSat-1/Hellas Sat-4, launched in February on a European Ariane 5 from Arianespace.

Lockheed Martin has three different LM2100 satellites beneath development: Japanese operator Sky Excellent JSAT’s Jcsat-17, and two SBIRS missile warning satellites for the U.S. Protection Division.

Balkheyour declined to say what Arabsat paid for the Falcon Heavy mission (SpaceX advertises Falcon Heavy launches as $90 million). He additionally declined to say the worth of Arabsat’s two-satellite Lockheed Martin order, which on the time of announcement was estimated at $650 million.

Balkheyour was nonetheless optimistic on the contracts, saying the Falcon Heavy was a “whole lot,” and that the Lockheed Martin satellites got here at a “very enticing value.”

Balkheyour mentioned Arabsat wasn’t afraid of attempting new applied sciences on launch or manufacturing for the satellites.

“The 2 firms [SpaceX and Lockheed Martin] to us are very certified, and we believed in them,” he mentioned. “We had a great business staff on either side, so why not? We need to do one thing totally different.”

Arabsat-6A will take 16 to 17 days of orbit elevating utilizing its chemical propulsion system to achieve its perch in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth, Balkheyour mentioned. From there the satellite tv for pc will present tv broadcasting and web connectivity companies to prospects within the Center East, Africa and Europe.

Balkheyour estimated that 40 to 50 p.c of the satellite tv for pc’s capability was presold previous to launch. Arabsat-6A carries Ku- and Ka-band transponders.

The launch would be the first for Falcon Heavy following its February 2018 demonstration flight carrying a purple Tesla roadster. SpaceX has different business prospects, together with Viasat, Inmarsat and the U.S. army, for future Falcon Heavy missions. The launch will even affect the certification course of for the U.S. Air Drive to launch nationwide safety payloads utilizing the rocket.

After the launch, barring a failure, Arabsat may have 9 satellites in orbit — seven for its core fleet and two for its Greek subsidiary Hellas Sat. Balkheyour mentioned Arabsat is designing one other satellite tv for pc now, and anticipates having a request for proposals prepared for producers by this fall.

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