Qatar’s Es’hailSat satellite communications company has purchased outright the satellite it has been sharing with Eutelsat – EUTELSAT-25B/Es’hail-1 – taking full control of the satellite now just named Es’hail-1. The purchase comes as the Qatari company awaits the launch later this year of Es’hail-2, built by Japanese satellite manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric Company (MELCO).
The 135 million Euro (U.S.$156.1 million) transaction increases Es’hailSat’s in-orbit capacity
EUTELSAT-25B/Es’hail-1 launched in August 2013 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, adding Qatar to the crowd of Middle Eastern satellite operators, including Nilesat of Egypt, Arabsat of Saudi Arabia, Yahsat of the UAE, and Spacecom of Israel. The Space Systems Loral (SSL)-built satellite carries Ku- and Ka-band capacity for television broadcasting and connectivity services in the Middle East and North Africa.
Es’hail-1 operates at 25.5 degrees east, an orbital slot for which Es’hailSat had to negotiate with Arabsat for spectrum rights prior to launch. Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is expected to drive regional demand for satellite bandwidth.
In 2014, Es’hailSat purchased its second satellite, Es’hail-2, from the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan..
According to an Es’hailSat Tweet on 1 August 2018, the satellite is expected to be launched during the fourth quarter 2018. It was originally expected to launch in 2016, but Es’hail-2 was delayed by late revisions to the spacecraft and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket failures in 2015 and 2016.
Marie-Sophie Ecuer, Eutelsat spokesperson, said in an email to Space News that the sale gives 15 transponders to Es’hailSat, which she described as “a minority of the satellite.” She declined to state the total number of transponders on the satellite.
“The divestment of this non-core asset is in line with Eutelsat’s strategy of optimising its portfolio of businesses in the context of its policy of maximizing cash generation,” the company said in a statement announcing the sale. In the same statement, Eutelsat said the transaction has no impact on the company’s revenue objectives, which include a return to “slight” growth in 2019.