ABU DHABI // The first commercial satellite developed by telecommunications company Yahsat has been fitted to a rocket as officials prepare for its scheduled launch from South America later this week.
The Y1A spacecraft will go through a series of tests and launch rehearsals before it is moved into position for blast-off from French Guiana, according to the Al Yah Satellite Communications Co, or Yahsat.
The Ariane 5 rocket that will carry it, made by the European Space Agency, is scheduled to lift off at 3am UAE time on Thursday. Only about 15 per cent of all satellite launches from the Arianespace centre take place on schedule, though most are within a three-day window.
In the days before take-off, the rocket and its boosters will be filled with 130 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 25 tonnes of hydrogen, which will help push the missile into its planned orbit almost 36,000km above sea level.
Meanwhile, engineers inside mission control at Al Falah, about 50km outside the UAE capital, will co-ordinate last-minute changes and direct the satellite once it is in space.
The satellite, which weighs three tonnes and has a wingspan of 30metres, will beam down commercial television and broadband internet services to 20 countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It will also offer communications for the defence sectors of those nations.
A second satellite, the Y1B, will be launched in the first quarter of next year, bringing the investment for the space programme to Dh4.4 billion.
Yahsat is owned by Mubadala Development Company, a strategic investment company controlled by the Abu Dhabi Government.