Israel’s Space Communications has signed a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch two communication satellites into orbit, after a prior attempt ended in disaster.
The explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket last year at Cape Canaveral in Florida dealt a major blow to the Israeli satellite operator. But Space Communications said on Wednesday the first new satellite, Amos-17, would be sent into orbit in 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at no extra cost.
Spacecom said it had agreed to pay SpaceX up to $62 million to launch a second satellite, Amos-8, a year later. The agreements are welcome news for Spacecom after a couple of years of setbacks beyond the SpaceX explosion. In 2015 it lost contact with one of its satellites and earlier this year its controlling shareholder became the target of a securities investigation.
Amos-17, bought from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million, is aimed at expanding and strengthening Spacecom’s coverage of growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The Amos-12 launch is scheduled for the second quarter of 2019 and it is set to operate for 19 years. The Amos-8 launch is expected for the second half of 2020. This continues SpaceX’s trajectory towards more launches in future years, having almost completed its scheduled 24 launches in 2017.