Doha: Qatar will become an official member of the international space club once satellite Sohail 1 is launched on August 29.
The satellite will be launched from European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, between 5.30pm and 6.30pm in collaboration with Qatar’s European partner company Eutelstat, the leading satellite operator.
Sohail 1 aims to respond to Qatar’s needs and strategic goals, the Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Satellite Company Es’hailSat, Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari, told Al Sharq in an interview.
Experiments and technical tests will be carried out for three months after which the orbit of the satellite will be 25.5 east, 36,000km up from the earth’s surface
“We expect to start providing services by December this year. Priority will be given to local TV channels and telecommunication services,” Al Kuwari said.
He said that Es’hail also plans to launch Sohail 2 by the end 2016-17. Al Kuwari said that Es’hailSat has already received several applications for subscribers even before the launch of Sohail 1, which has in fact, helped to start planning Sohail 2.
“Sohail 2 will give Qatar a more competitive and strong role in the satellite market,” he said.
As per the capacity of Sohail 1, television channels running on the Standard Definition Television (SDTV) service will have the capacity of 140 channels, while the High Definition Television (HDTV) would run 30 channels.
It took three years to build Sohail 1, which weighs about six tonnes.
The project on the satellite started in 2009 with the establishment of a temporary committee from government bodies which included members from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, ictQatar, Kahramaa and Ooredoo.
“The mandate of the committee was to identify the need for Qatar to have its own satellite, keeping in view services such as broadcasting, telecommunication and Internet,” Al Kuwari said.
“Contract for the satellite was signed with Space Systems Loral (SSL) and ictQarar on behalf of Qatar as Es’hail was not yet established at the time. The contract of the satellite has now come to Es’hailSat,” he added.
Qatar Satellite Company owns 54.5 percent of the satellite project, while 45.5 percent of the share is owned by the French-based satellite provider Eutelstat.
A plane carrying 47 Qatari delegates will leave from Qatar On August 28 at 12:05 am to attend the launching ceremony in Kourou.
The expected time of launch is expected from 25 to 30 minutes, if everything goes as planned, Al Kuwari said.
Although he did not mention the cost of the project, Al Kuwari said satellites generally cost between $250m and $450m.
“This depends on the size of the satellite and the technology used.
“We have also established a special centre to deal with the customers that will work for 24 hours throughout the week.”