SES-8 launched successfully; DTH players to benefit

MUMBAI: When it lifted off with almost perfection from the Cape Canaveral station in Florida in the US, communications satellite SES-8 was a personal victory for the creator of the Tesla vehicle Elon Musk. It was Musk’s company SpaceX’s first successful commercial launch using a Falcon 9 launch vehicle and it helped him break into the duopolistic satellite launch market which is dominated by European firm Arianespace and Russia’s International Launch Services  (which mainly uses Proton rockets). SpaceX has priced its launches in the $55-60 million range.

While it was a personal landmark for Musk, it was also a victory for the Luxembourg-based SES Satellite management that gleefully watched the $100 million plus 3.1 tonne satellite being hurtled 50,000 miles above the earth into geostationary orbit. Built on a GEO-Star bus by Orbital Sciences, SES-8 is to be co-located with the NSS-6 satellite at 95 degrees east.

The satellite has 33 Ku-band transponders and is targeting both south Asian and south East Asian clients. “The new satellites will enable improved coverage in fast-growing economies in south Asia and Indo-China,” says a press release from the company.

In south Asia, it is aimed at providing much needed transmission capacity to India's DTH and VSat service providers and government. Sources indicated that considering its location at 95 degrees east, one of the potential customers could be India's first DTH services provider, the Essel group’s Dish TV that is currently beaming off NSS-6 and is also owned by SES. But all the deals will be done through Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Antrix arm.

SES also plans to launch SES-9 in 2015 at 108.2 degree East with extensive Ku-band capacity to give company to the existing SES-7 satellite in order to provide better DTH broadcasting services in South Asia along with north East Asia and Indonesia.

Although, it was set for launch in early 2013, technical issues pushed the SES-8 to the end of the year.

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