Gas and oil-rich Qatar says it wants to launch 6 satellites over the next 10 years. Qatar is home to the influential Al Jazeera suite of television channels, and is financing its first – highly controversial – satellite for launch this coming summer.
Es’Hail 1 is being built by Space Systems/Loral in a joint venture with Eutelsat. Indeed, the satellite (also called Eutelsat 25B) will be located at the extremely contentious 25.5 degrees East position, slap alongside Arabsat’s powerful 26 degrees East slot. Eutelsat and Arabsat have been arguing for more than two years over who has transmission rights from the 25.5/26 degrees East positions.
An Es’Hail board meeting this month will determine whether to approve plans for Es’Hail 2, but specialist magazine Space News is reporting that Es’Hail officials believe that the Middle East/North Africa region is underserved by satellite capacity, especially in terms of HDTV.
Additionally, Qatar is hosting the key FIFA World Cup tournament in 2022, and it is this date that Es’Hail has in its sights to become a major independent satellite player.