Abu Dhabi to launch first satellite next month

Haseeb Haider
Filed on February 24, 2011
Abu Dhabi to launch first satellite next month

ABU DHABI — Abu Dhabi’s YahSat will send two hybrid satellites into the orbit during the year, which will serve the military as well as civilian and commercial purposes. The first satellite Y1A is scheduled to be launched as early as end March, a top official said.

Al Yahsat Satellite Communications Company, or YahSat, which is part of Mubadala Development Company, an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, announced its plans last year to launch two hybrid satellites designed to provide communication facilities to commercial and governmental users.

The ambitious satellite communciations programme that would cost $1.6 billion is set to open new avenues of commercial opportunities in the country.

EADS Astrium has been awarded a contract to handle the space segment of the two satellites, while Thales Alenia Space will manage the ground segment. “Our project is unique... Our satellites have military as well as commercial payloads, which no country in the Middle East offers”, said Rashid Al Ghafri General Manager Yah Service, in an interview with Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the IDEX-2011.

Yah Service, which will manage the two satellites, will offer value added solutions to a wide range of customers with critical operations and different applications anywhere in the world.

For the government payload, the general manager said “We are trying to target armed forces, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, Police and oil and gas companies and other users. Our expertise extends to embassies, military networks, rural communications, border control services as well as emergencies and disaster relief agencies”, the company said.

Most of the government institutions have sensitive data, information and communication for which they need a secure communication network, which the Abu Dhabi-based Satellite communications firm will provide.” We offer security, reliability and confidentiality,” Al Ghafri said. “Initially, YahSat plans to offer range of its services to the UAE’s military as well as civilian institutions but later on nations in the GCC region will be offered the same, as there is enough capacity to meet the needs of the region,” he said.

The second satellite Y1B, to be sent into the orbit in the fourth-quarter of the year, will offer internet services in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia region.

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