Qatar has moved one step closer to launching its first independent satellite after the Emir formally approved joining the UN Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space yesterday.
This legal step means that the summer launch of the satellite “Eshail 1” in Kourou, French Guyana, should go ahead as planned, although no specific date has been announced yet.
The satellite will provide television, telephonic and internet services to expanding markets across the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.
It will be managed by Es’hailSat, an independent company which began as the Qatar Satellite Company in 2010, when it was established by ictQATAR to manage and develop Qatar’s presence in space.
Its launch means a wide range of benefits for Qatar, according to ictQATAR’s website:
“This means more TV channel choices and cable provider options in Qatar, and improved military surveillance and radio communications for the country’s armed forces”, a statement reads. “This investment will help ensure Qatar’s commitment to meeting the sophisticated broadband needs required to host FIFA’s World Cup in 2022.”
The six-ton satellite will be placed at 25.5 degrees east, which may compromise the function of KSA-owned Arabsat, currently operating at 26 degrees east, an issue that has been in dispute for two years.
However, the issue has had no impact on Qatar’s ambitions, according to Space News:
“The frequency conflict with Arabsat and Iran has not slowed development of Es’hail 1, nor dimmed Es’hailSat’s ambitions to become, in the satellite operations world, what Qatar-based Al Jazeera is in the satellite television world.”
Eshail 1 is named after the star which becomes visible in the night sky in the Middle East at the beginning of autumn.
“Traditionally, the sighting of Es’hail brings happiness, as it means that winter is coming and good weather will soon be with us,” the company says on its website.
Credit: Image courtesy of the Es’hailSat brochure