Israeli satellite 'Amos-17' to be launched into space next week from Florida

Amos-17's objective would be to provide TV, cellular and internet services to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

July 29, 2019 05:30
2 minute read.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite, sits on Launch Complex 40 after the launch was postponed after an abort procedure was triggered by the onboard flight computer, at Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S.. (photo credit: REUTERS/STEVE NESIUS)

Israeli satellite “Amos-17” is scheduled to be mounted on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and launched into space from the Kennedy Space Center next Sunday or Monday, Ynet reported.

Intended to improve TV, cellular and Internet services to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Amos-17 has an expected lifespan of about 20 years, and will orbit 36,000 km. above central Africa.

“Africa is a huge continent,” said an official at Spacecom, the Israeli communication company that owns the satellite built by Boeing. “It’s the fastest growing continent. By the end of this century, Asia and Africa will be equal in terms of population, which means that in terms of the percentage of the young population, it will be the largest young population in the world, so there will be a demand for content. It’s hard to reach some points on the ground there so a satellite solves that problem.”

The company said it has a sales backlog of $58 million for communication services to Africa and for other services.

“We provide satellite communications internationally, but first and foremost we are an Israeli company,” Spacecom CEO David Polak told Ynet. “We are the only Israeli satellite operator. We operate these satellites at a different point in the sky which are of importance to the State of Israel.”

In 2016, a SpaceX rocket carrying the most-advanced Israeli communications satellite in history, Amos-6, exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, destroying the $200-million device two days before it was scheduled to take off into space.

SpaceX claimed the explosion was caused by the failure of one of three helium tanks, known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels or COPVs, inside the liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s second stage. The loose liquid oxygen triggered a fuel explosion.

Polak related to that event, first and foremost affirming that “We trust SpaceX,” and added that “this time, during the test of the missile, our satellite will be in a bunker, far away and covered, so that if something happens to this missile in those experiments, we will not be harmed.”

The Science and Technology Ministry announced in 2018 the development and construction of a new Israeli-built communication satellite, Amos-8, which will be built and designed entirely in Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries.

Amos-8 will be the seventh in a series of Israeli communications satellites, with all but one developed by IAI. The first satellite, Amos-1, was launched in 1996, primarily for home television transmissions.

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