New Dawn reaches space


Intelsat’s New Dawn satellite was successfully launched on 22 April, after an aborted attempt last month.

The fixed satellite services company says the Arianespace launcher, Ariane5, lifted off from French Guiana at 5:37pm (EDT), followed by spacecraft separation from the launch vehicle at 6:12pm. Signal acquisition occurred at 6:29pm.

Intelsat New Dawn is the first of eight satellites scheduled for launch over the next two years and is part of the largest satellite programme in Intelsat’s history, according to the company.
“The investment programme is expected to provide enhanced high-powered capacity to Intelsat’s global fleet. Intelsat’s next launch is expected to be the Intelsat 18 satellite, scheduled for later in 2011.”

Intelsat says the first attempted launch of New Dawn, on March 30, was postponed due to the launch sequence being shut down automatically.

The satellite is the first African private sector communications satellite.

It features a payload optimised to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and television programming to the continent.

It will be operated and marketed as part of the global Intelsat fleet. Jon Osler, MD of Africa sales at Intelsat, says the life expectancy of the satellite is 17 years.
“The New Dawn satellite and its 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36MHz transponder units are designed specifically to supply critical communications infrastructure for African customers,” says Intelsat.

It will operate from a geostationary orbital slot at 32.8 degrees east and is expected to be placed into service in the second quarter of this year.

Intelsat says the venture was established to provide solutions for African communication needs, and is expected to deliver new capacity for voice, wireless backhaul, Internet and media applications.

New Dawn was announced in December 2008. It is a joint venture between Intelsat and South African investment company Convergence Partners.

The US$250 million project is funded approximately 15% with equity and 85% with debt. African institutions are providing about 90% of the total financing and Intelsat will contribute the balance.

The consortium of lenders providing the debt includes Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation of SA and the African Development Bank. The equity is provided by Intelsat (74.9%) and the Convergence Partners-led group (25.1%), according to Intelsat.
“The satellite will not only deliver crucial services specifically tailored for Africa, it will also herald the dawn of a new era where Africans enjoy far greater involvement in the space communications industry,” says Convergence Partners chairman Andile Ngcaba.