Israeli Satellite Amos 5I About to Run Out of Fuel

Satellite operator Spacecom says error in calculation, made by manufacturer, to blame for failure; company stock loses 6%.

The satellite company Spacecom Satellite Communications announced Monday that the Israeli Amos 5i satellite did not have enough fuel to supply a continuous feed until the scheduled launch of its replacement satellite, the Amos 5, planned for June 2011.

AP

The discovery was made during a routine maneuver to preserve the location of the satellite, which was launched in 1999. As a result, Spacecom's stock took a 6% dive.

CEO and President of Spacecom David Pollack explained that the company had leased the Amos 5i for the last two years of its intended lifespan. According to him, the calculations of the fuel necessary to power the satellite were incorrect, and it appears that the manufacturer of the satellite had made the error.

Pollack remarked that his company will try to find an alternate solution for the 20 clients who use the Amos 5i to allow continuous service until the replacement satellite is launched and all 20 clients can be transferred to it.

Uri Licht, head of research at the IBI investment firm, said that "Spacecom's strategy was to buy a satellite it could use until the launch of Amos 5, and place its orders on it. Because the Amos 5i will fail ahead of schedule, Spacecom will have to find other satellites and lease bandwidth from them. This way, it can continue to provide service to the clients already reliant on Amos 5i. In addition, I believe that the company will try to build a client reserve for the Amos 5 now. The company estimates its losses at some NIS 12 million."
The Amos 5 and the Amos 5i were meant to "enhance the Amos satellite fleet coverage over the Middle East and Europe, while adding the emerging African markets to our service portfolio," according to the Spacecom website.