SpaceX to launch Yahsat satellites

The United Arab Emirates-based satellite operator, Yahsat, has chosen SpaceX to launch its Al Yah 4 and Al Yah 5 geostationary communications satellites in 2027 and 2028 respectively. The satellites, which are part of a $1.1 billion program, will be launched on Falcon 9 rockets, although the exact value of the launch contract has not been disclosed.

In June, Yahsat finalized a contract with Airbus Defence and Space to build the two satellites, which are scheduled to replace Al Yah 1 and 2. The satellites are utilizing the Eurostar Neo bus and are designed to provide broadband services to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

Yahsat’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Ali Al Hashemi, announced that they have secured a $5.1 billion deal from the UAE government to provide broadband services until at least 2043 using the new satellites. The agreement includes a $1 billion advance payment in 2024 to cover the costs of the satellites, launch, ground infrastructure, and insurance.

It’s unclear why Yahsat selected SpaceX, as they did not disclose any other companies that were considered for the satellites. However, by 2027, other vehicles such as Arianespace’s Ariane 6, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H3, and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur should be available. These vehicles, however, may have backlogs of contracts that could limit their ability to take on new business at that time.

Additionally, in June, the contract for Al Yah 4 and 5 included two low Earth orbit satellites based on the Arrow bus by Airbus. These satellites are expected to support Yahsat’s future direction of providing multi-orbit satellite solutions to its customers, although the launch plans for these LEO satellites have not been disclosed.

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