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Lockheed Martin Partners With TAQNIA To Build New Satellite Ground System For KSA

The Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 communications satellite at Lockheed Martin. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Following the successful launch and operation of Saudi Arabia’s newest commercial communications satellite, SaudiGeoSat-1 (SGS-1), Lockheed Martin has been selected to develop a new ground system to control, manage and operate the satellite. The Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA) and Lockheed Martin will develop and deploy the new ground segment for the secure and commercial operations of SGS-1.

The ground system supports advanced Ka-band spot beam communications services, commercial off-the-shelf-based broadband services as well as Saudi-specific secure communication services. The system will be deployed in two phases, with the initial commercial system going online in late 2020 and the Lockheed Martin-engineered secure communications system following.

“This modern satellite ground system will help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia take full advantage of the advanced capabilities of SaudiGeoSat-1 and nurture Saudi’s growing native engineering talent,” said Joseph Rank, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia. “This system will also allow the integration of current and future Air and Missile Defense Systems, adding enhanced security and resiliency further protecting the citizens of Saudi Arabia.”

As the Kingdom’s satellite communications needs evolve, this system is designed to grow with them and accommodate additional communications satellites. SaudiGeoSat-1 is one of two payloads aboard the first modernized LM 2100™ satellite bus designed and built by Lockheed Martin. The Hellas Sat-4 / SaudiGeoSat-1 satellite launched aboard an Ariane V rocket from French Guiana on 5 February 2019. SaudiGeoSat-1 will enable future sovereign control and interoperability of all the Kingdom’s commercial and military platforms.

“Saudi engineers trained and worked side-by-side with Lockheed Martin’s world-class satellite manufacturing experts,” said Abdulrahman Alkhathlan, CEO of TAQNIA Holdings. “This practical learning experience is helping build qualified Saudi talent to support future satellite and ground component production in the Kingdom.”

“Space is a critical enabler for national security and defense systems and aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, as well as goals for self-sufficiency, critical to the Kingdom’s future,” Alkhathlan added. “A comprehensive, integrated space architecture strengthens the Kingdom’s modern military systems and operations across all domains, dramatically improving situational awareness.”

The SaudiGeoSat-1 communications payload provides advanced Ka-band steerable spot beam communications services for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, including secure communications for the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

Hellas Sat4/SaudiGeoSat-1 is the first of two LM 2100 satellites in the Arabsat-6G program. The second is Arabsat-6A. The satellite features a reprogrammable in-orbit mission processor that lets operators change configuration as their business needs change.

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