x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Satellite is now under UAE control

Local engineers have taken over control of the Yahsat satellite, which is expected to begin providing communications services next month.

ABU DHABI // Operations for Yahsat's first commercial satellite have been handed over to its control centre, where Emirati engineers will conduct the final in-orbit tests before it begins beaming services to users next month.

With the assistance of Yahsat officials, the satellite had been controlled by a team of engineers in French Guiana, where it was launched last month, and then by its manufacturers in France. Earlier this week, the satellite reached its mark in orbit, about 36,000 kilometres above Earth.

Yahsat, or Al Yah Satellite Communications, is owned by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company controlled by the Abu Dhabi Government. Engineers and technicians at the control centre in Al Falah, about a half-hour drive outside the capital, will now work around the clock, testing equipment to make sure antennas and receivers are working correctly and that the coverage areas are in-line, said Ross Barker, director of satellite operations.

"These are the same tests that are done in the factory, but we have to make sure that the launch was not too strenuous and that the harsh space environment has not affected it," he said, adding that it is very unlikely there will be any changes.

Services for internet, mobile-phone and television from the satellite should begin beaming down to users in five weeks, he said.