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Israel’s Spacecom Under Mounting Pressure As It Extends Down Payment Period, AMOS-8 Orbital Slot Claimed by Israeli Government

Image courtesy of Spacecom.

Israel’s Spacecom, the troubled operator of the AMOS fleet of communications satellites, has postponed its U.S.$112 million contract with Space Systems Loral (SSL) to build the AMOS-8 satellite.

Instead, Spacecom has come to an interim agreement with SSL and has a 30 day extension to raise the necessary funds for the initial down payment that will see the contract reinstated and work begun on the satellite.

The announcement came via a filing by Spacecom with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on 27 May 2018.

The original agreement between Spacecom and SSL was announced on 25 March 2018 and stipulated that Spacecom had 60 days to raise the necessary funds for the AMOS-8 down payment. That 60 day period ended on 25 May 2018.

Once SSL receives the down payment it is contracted to deliver the completed AMOS-8 satellite within 27 months, and is to provide on-orbit support so long as the satellite is operational.

Due to the ongoing difficulties of Spacecom, and its parent company Eurocom Group, there were insufficient funds within the company to make the initial down payment estimated to be approximately U.S.$50 million. In April 2018 Spacecom announced that it intended to raise U.S.$110 million through bond options and collateral bonds.

Give the filing made to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on 27 May, it is obvious that this fund raising effort has yet to meet its goal.

Further difficulties for Spacecom have also come to light when the company said that it had recently received a letter from an Israeli official that the government will build a communications satellite – to be built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) – and that this system will be placed in the orbital slot intended for AMOS-8. The Israeli government owns this orbital slot.

This letter comes amidst growing controversy surrounding Spacecom’s decision to award the AMOS-8 contract to SSL, a U.S. satellite manufacturer, rather than to IAI, despite the fact that SSL offered to build a high-quality satellite for less money and more quickly than IAI.

This places further pressure on Spacecom to raise the down payment for AMOS-8 and have it built and launched as soon as possible. Reports suggest that it will take four years for IAI to build the communications satellite that is to be paid for by the Israeli state.

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