Argentina has managed to keep its satellite Ka-band transmission rights – and access to an 80 degrees West orbital position – by taking a short lease on an old SES Astra satellite.
The SES craft, Astra 1H, visited the Argentinian position on September 4th last year according to a story in Space Intel Report and using data from the USA’s North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which tracks satellite activity.
NORAD says Astra 1H left the location on January 11th this year, and thus ‘qualified’ Argentina’s rights to the orbital slot because it fulfilled the 90-day rule set by the ITU as a condition for “bringing into use” the Ka-band frequencies.
A separate report says that the Argentineans have paid SES €7 million for the loan of Astra H1.
However, the lease of Astra H1 comes with more questions than answers, not least what Argentina’s ARSAT is going to do next. Orders were placed back in 2015 for a new satellite along with a launch contract with Arianespace for a rocket launch some time this year. But both these contracts were abandoned – seemingly a couple of years ago.
The same applied to a potential joint-venture with Hughes Network Systems which might have resulted in a new satellite, but that scheme has also collapsed with a lack of funding.
In other words, with no follow-on satellite under way the Argentineans might end up with an orbital position – but no satellite.