Israel’s Amos-17 satellite by Ramat Gan-based company Spacecom was successfully launched into space overnight Wednesday in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, came almost three years after a spectacular launchpad explosion destroyed Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite and the SpaceX rocket it was on in September 2016.
This article originally appeared in NoCamels.com
AMOS-6 was then touted as Israel’s most advanced satellite, operated by Spacecom and developed with its partner, the Israel Aerospace Industries. Its goal was to beam free internet across sub-Saharan Africa as part of a project with Facebook. The tech giant had in 2015 launched Internet.org, a non-profit initiative that would bring together technology leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to provide Internet access to the most remote regions of the world.
The Amos-17, built by Boeing, will have much the same objective: to provide satellite communication services including broadband and high-speed data services to Africa as well as the Middle East and Europe.
The satellite was originally scheduled to be launched on Saturday but was delayed to fix a suspected faulty valve during tests.
Once operational, Amos-17 will be the most technologically advanced satellite over Africa, providing extensive C-Band HTS capabilities, Ka-Band and Ku-Band to a range of markets, and combining broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency, Spacecom says.
Amos-17 will operate from 17° East to expand and strengthen Spacecom’s coverage of the growing satellite service markets in the continent which suffers from snail-pace internet speeds and inadequate infrastructure. According to a 2018 joint report by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, and UN Women, internet penetration across the continent stands at 22 percent.
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To get connectivity via Amos-17, a simple solar-powered terminal is required, the Times of Israel reported citing remarks at a press conference last month by Eran Shapiro, director of business and technology ventures at Spacecom.
Spacecom says the Amos-17 “will be a state-of-the-art multi-band high-throughput satellite, utilizing Boeing’s advanced digital processor platform, that will provide reliable and flexible satellite solutions and offer a significant competitive advantage for our customers.”
The satellite’s “inherent flexibility of the digital platform with a mix of fixed and steerable beams ensures a fast response to changing customers’ needs.”
The $250 million Amos-17 is expected to operate for at least 20 years.