SpaceX successfully launches Israeli Amos-17 satellite

Spacecom says it will be the most advanced satellite to provide communication services to sub-Saharan Africa.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Israeli-owned Amos-17 commercial communications satellite, lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral (photo credit: REUTERS)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Israeli-owned Amos-17 commercial communications satellite, lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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SpaceX successfully launched Israeli communication satellite Amos-17 into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Tuesday night, promising increased internet connectivity for sub-Saharan Africa once operational.
Manufactured by Boeing Satellite Systems International, Ramat Gan-based Spacecom’s Amos-17 satellite soared into the Florida sky at 19:23 p.m. local time (02:23 a.m. Israel time) on-board a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, en route to its 17°E orbital position over central Africa.
The satellite separated from the launcher’s second stage 33 minutes after ignition as planned, and is in constant contact with its ground station.
Amos-17 will commence a sequence of in-orbit tests in the coming weeks, expected to take approximately three months, prior to beginning commercial operations.
“Amos-17 places us directly into the exciting growth of Africa’s Sub-Saharan vibrant markets,” said Spacecom CEO and president David Pollack following the launch.
“As a leading multi-regional satellite operator, Spacecom is introducing the most technologically advanced satellite with HTS beams to service Africa where Amos-17 will deliver a large selection of services to a variety of broadcast, broadband and telecom clients.”
The 6.5-ton, high-power HTS satellite, the company says, will provide extensive C-band HTS, Ka-band and Ku-band capabilities to meet Africa’s fast-growing communication demands. It will offer increased connectivity between Africa, the Middle East, India, China and as far west as Brazil.
“A proud morning, with the news of the successful launch of the Amos 17 satellite,” President Reuvin Rivlin wrote on Twitter. “Thank you and congratulations to our friends at @AMOSSpacecom and @SpaceX for their important work on behalf of the State of Israel.”


The launch of Amos-17 was initially scheduled for Sunday evening (local time), but postponed after a “suspect valve” was identified in one of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle’s engines. After additional tests of the launch site were successfully carried out, the rearranged satellite launch was executed without fault.
The reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle, designed and manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is a two-stage rocket for the transport of satellites and other commercial payloads into orbit. The launch vehicle booster that carried Amos-17 previously flew in support of Canadian communication company Telesat’s Telstar 19V satellite in July 2018 and Japanese-built Qatari satellite Es’hail-2 in November 2018.
While a standard satellite launch on-board Falcon 9 is priced at a hefty $62 million, SpaceX provided the launch at no cost to Spacecom after the company’s $200m. The Amos-6 satellite, leased by Facebook, was destroyed in an explosion during a launch test at Cape Canaveral in September 2016.
In September 2018, the Science and Technology Ministry said it would subsidize the development and construction of a new Israeli-built communication satellite: the Amos-8. The satellite, which will be built and designed entirely in Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries, will be the seventh in a series of Israeli communications satellites, with all but one developed by IAI.
Contact was lost with Amos-5, developed by Russian company Reshetnev, in November 2015. The latest satellite is expected to be built within four years.
Following its successful launch, Spacecom says Amos-17 is planned to be in operation for a minimum of 20 years. The company currently has a sales backlog valued at $58m. for communications services to the African market via the satellite, including with Nigeria-based broadcaster IDS Africa, and expects to sign additional large deals in the future.