Troubled Israeli commercial satellite operator Spacecom has won a U.S.$55 million contract from an unnamed customer to use the AMOS-17 satellite to broadcast content to the African continent.
AMOS-17 is being built by U.S. satellite manufacturer Boeing Satellite Systems International and is scheduled to be launched by SpaceX by mid-2019, and is to replace AMOS-5 – built by a Russian manufacturer – that failed in orbit in 2015 after only four years operation of what should have been a fifteen year mission.
AMOS-17 will carry Ka-, Ku-, and C-band transponders, and the unnamed customer will utilise its high-throughput Ka-band capability to broadcast content to African audiences. Some U.S.$25 million of the contract is earmarked for as-yet undescribed collaboration services.
The contract depends upon a successful launch of AMOS-17 in 2019, and the start of satellite operations in late 2019, a provision that likely explains why the customer is undisclosed at this time. A launch or operation failure of AMOS-17 will terminate the capacity part of the contract, valued at U.S.$30 million, according to documentation filed with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Spacecom is going through troubled times, with its parent company, Eurocom Group, recently filing for bankruptcy, its failure to find a buyer, and the catastrophic losses of the AMOS-5 and AMOS-6 satellites. The recent announcement that its forthcoming AMOS-8 satellite is to be built by U.S. manufacturer Space Systems Loral, a Maxar Technologies subsidiary, caused controversy since that decision placed the satellite manufacturing capability of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in peril.
Furthermore, Spacecom announced that the cost of building and launching the AMOS-8 satellite is to be covered by subscriptions and capital raised through the sale of Spacecom bonds – a strategy that is fraught with risk.