Korea Telecom has sold two valuable satellites for a bargain price of $4.24 million, according to a statement made in South Korea’s parliament. The sales, to Europe*Star and to Hong Kong-based Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) could also be illegal, claimed opposition parliamentarians. The two satellites cost around $400 million to construct.
The two satellites (Mugungwha 1 and 2, and named after South Korea’s national flower) have been formally retired, and despite the criticism Korea Telecom says it did not need to seek prior government authorisation for the sale.
The satellites were renamed KoreaSat 1 and 2. Mugungwha-1/KoreaSat-1 had a problem launch on board a Delta rocket in August 1995 and the satellite had to use its on-board propellant to reach its designated orbital position. It was sold to Europe*Star and operated as Europe*Star-B, and was an ‘emergency buy’ in order to protect orbital frequencies that were due to expire because of a delayed Europe*Star FM1 satellite that was eventually launched in October 2000 (and itself ended up being sold to PanAmSat as PAS-12 and then renamed Intelsat-12 when PanAmSat was bought by Intelsat).
KoreaSat-2 was bought by ABS and operated as ABS 1A in July 2009. ABS 1A is still earning a living, and is located at 75 degrees East in an inclined orbit where it has 10 active transponders (out of the original 15).