The Chief Strategy Officer of the Es'hailSat Qatar Satellite Company, Anthony Baker, and French astronaut and former head of ESA EU Astronaut Centre, Michel Tognini, addressing the seminar at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha yesterday. Salim Matramkot
BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Qatar Satellite Company, Es’hailSat which launched its maiden satellite ‘Es’hail I’ on August 29, will launch Es’hail II by 2016.
The state-backed company is expected to issue an RFP (request for proposal) to award manufacturing contracts by the second quarter of 2014, a senior official of the company said here yesterday.
“Es’hail II will also be a communication satellite with a lot more capacity which will help us serve other markets. The second satellite will be launched within three years,” Anthony Baker, Chief Strategy Officer at Es’hailSat, told The Peninsula.
“We have hired consultants for writing technical specifications of the satellite. Once specification details are complete, we will go for RFP issue maybe by the end of April next year.”
He said Es’hailSat is also exploring business opportunities for Es’hail III and Es’hail IV to become a more sustainable company.
Baker was speaking on the sidelines of a one-day seminar on ‘Space Projects: A Return on Experience’ organised by Qatar University in collaboration with ictQatar, Es’hailSat and the French Embassy.
Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, CEO, Es’hailSat; Dr Mazem Hasna, Vice President Qatar University; Michel Tognini; astronaut and former head of ESA EU Astronaut Centre, guests and students pursuing career in space science also attended.
According to Baker, the second series of Es’hail satellite will weigh about three tonnes, much smaller than Es’hail 1, which is equal to the size of a mini-bus and weighed about six tonnes.
Es’hail 1 is designed to serve broadcasters, businesses and agencies in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, but the satellite will be dedicated to local subscribers.
It appears that subscription requests from overseas customers will be addressed with the launch of Es’hail II.
“There are many requests for subscription from foreign clients, but Es’hail I will be dedicated to Qatari stakeholders. If anything left then we will think of commercialising the rest of the capacity,” said Baker.
Asked about the formal start of Es’hail I services, he said: “It is ready for service. There are a lot of tests that have to be taken from the client’s side. Some customers have started testing since last week.”
Baker refused to name the channels that have started tests and said: “It is not appropriate for me to comment. Since it’s the first time local broadcasters are going to use the services of Qatari satellite, they might want to make it part of big announcement.”
About the estimated cost of the satellite, Baker refused to provide details and said: “Quite often it’s confidential in this business.”
However, he gave some break-ups that the launching cost of the Es’hail I was about $100m.
“The manufacturing cost of a satellite may be in the range between $150m and $250m, whereas the launching cost varies from $80m to $120m, depending on how they fit them together.”
According to reports, experts estimate Es’hail 1 would have cost between $662m (QR2.41bn) and $1.05bn (QR3.85bn) from preparation, manufacturing and launch.
Es’hail I was a joint project between Es’hailSat and Eutelsat Communications, a French company, in which Qatar holds 54.5 percent stake, whereas Es’hail II will be fully owned by Es’hailSat.