New Dawn satellite launch postponed
Johannesburg - The launch of the Intelsat New Dawn satellite, the first African private sector communications satellite, has been postponed after the launch sequence was shut down automatically, satellite services provider Intelsat SA said on Thursday morning.
The flight was scheduled for launch on March 30, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.
"The spacecraft is secure. Arianespace is going to review the data and make another launch attempt at a later date," Intelsat said.
Initially announced in December 2008, the $250m Intelsat New Dawn was set to launch from the Arianespace Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guiana, at about 23:45 on Wednesday.
Intelsat said that the satellite continued to attract new business as SkyeVine, a joint venture company between Ellies Holdings [JSE:ELI] and Q-KON, said it planned to use capacity on Intelsat New Dawn to provide affordable broadband internet services to small businesses, domestic and public service entities.
SkyeVine intended to provide internet service providers (ISPs) with a complementing product line that could reach all potential users with little or no establishment cost to the ISP, Intelsat said.
Separately, Intelsat also announced that it had signed a contract to provide services to the US Department of Defence for 36 MHz transponder services for one year, with options for an additional four one-year contracts.
The Intelsat New Dawn satellite is owned by a joint venture between Intelsat and a consortium led by Convergence Partners. The satellite's 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units were designed specifically to supply critical communications infrastructure for African customers who had experienced exceptional growth along with the development of the region.
The satellite would be stationed at 32.8 east longitude, and would be integrated with Intelsat's global satellite fleet.
The Intelsat New Dawn project had been funded about 15% with equity and 85% with debt. African institutions would provide about 90% of the total financing required for the joint venture and Intelsat would contribute the balance.
Nedbank Capital, part of the Nedbank Group [JSE:NED], had arranged the non-recourse debt financing. A consortium of lenders including Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation of SA and the African Development Bank would provide the debt funding. The equity was provided by Intelsat (74.9%) and the Convergence Partners-led group (25.1%), which also includes Altirah Telecoms and the not-for-profit Convergence Partners Foundation.