JERUSALEM (Reuters) – 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.
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.
Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Mark Heinrich