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Israeli satellite seeks Facebook contract

August 5, 2019

By Chris Forrester

SpaceX was due to launch Tel Aviv-based Spacecom’s Amos-17 satellite on August 3rd and has delayed the launch for several days due to a technical problem with the Falcon 9 launch rocket.

The earliest date for launch is August 6th, probably during an early evening launch window from SpaceX’s Florida launch pad.

Spacecom’s CEO David Pollack, briefing journalists last week, said he was still hopeful that Amos 17 would be the route to resurrecting a valuable contract with Facebook. Spacecom had a Facebook contract but it died with the catastrophic loss of Amos 6 in September 2016 which was destroyed when a previous SpaceX rocket exploded during a pre-launch test.

“We had an agreement on the late Amos 6 with Facebook to provide Internet for everyone in Africa. It was a dream agreement. I still remember the explosion of Amos 6, and we lost this agreement, but I hope that we can do this with Amos 17,” said Pollack.

SpaceX says that a suspect valve was examined and replaced and a further – but unprecedented – “wet rehearsal” static text firing of the rocket to ensure all was well. Not helping matters are poor weather conditions around Cape Canaveral, Florida which could still delay the launch.

For this particular launch SpaceX will not be recovering the rocket’s first stage as it will have flown three times and is not fitted with the usual ‘landing legs’. As SpaceX put it this particular rocket is “expendable”.

The two previous flights for this particular first stage were Canada’s Telstar 19 Vantage and later the Es’Hail 2 satellite for Qatar.

Amos 17, once launched, will be placed into a geostationary transfer orbit and during which the satellite’s own electric power will raise the craft to 17 degrees East. The new satellite will replace Amos 5 which suffered problems back in 2015.

Spacecom say they have pre-orders for the satellite of $58 million, mostly to the Africa market.

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