Spacecom, which operates the ‘Amos’ fleet of satellites, told the Tel Aviv stock exchange on Saturday November 21st that it has lost contact with its latest Amos-5 spacecraft.
The satellite is relatively new having been launched in December 2011 to the 17 degree East orbital position. Amos-5 was built by a Russian company, M. H. Reshetnev (with some components supplied by Thales Alenia Space) and carried 16 Ku-band and 18 C-band transponders. It was launched by a Proton rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
It had a planed lifetime of 15 years, although there have been reports that it had suffered power supply problems.
The loss – if it is permanent – would be catastrophic for Spacecom, given that Amos-5 represented about one-third of the operator’s revenues. The satellite itself is reportedly insured, but it is not known whether the policy covers ‘loss of profits’ in the event of a failure. The spacecraft has a reported value of some $160m-$190m, although its insured value is placed at $158 million.
Amos-5’s coverage extended over the Middle East, Europe and much of Africa.
The loss is also likely to impact the sale of Spacecom which is 64.5 per cent owned by Eurocom.
“The Company wishes to clarify, based on the preliminary examinations it carried out, that even if there will be a ‘total loss’ (complete failure) of the satellite, this would have a negligible effect on the equity of the company,” Spacecom said in a statement.
Despite the statement, share values in Spacecom fell by 30 per cent in trading Sunday.
Local reports out of Israel say that it will take about three years to replace the satellite. Amos-6, Spacecom’s next satellite in orbit, is scheduled for a launch in February 2016. However, it is designed for a different mission and will be placed at the company’s 4 degrees West position. It is planned to be launched on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.
A further statement from Spacecom issued on November 22 said the company was currently employing all of its capabilities and those of its partners to re-establish communication with the satellite and at this point, did not have further information regarding the cause of this anomaly.
“Spacecom is working around the clock, doing the utmost to speed service recovery for its customers. Our service teams are looking for solutions for our customers to enable their broadcast signals and data communications streams to continue with minimal interruption,” commented Spacecom CEO and president, David Pollack.