Above the Clouds: Saudi Arabia Launches Its First Communications Satellite

16 Jan 2020   |  Saudi Arabia

Represented by the King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has launched its first satellite for communications on February 2019. The Saudi Geostationary (SGS-1), Saudi’s 16th satellite, has been launched successfully from the French Guiana Space Centre on an Ariane 5 rocket. Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense signed the final piece to be placed on the satellite with the words, above the clouds.

The launch of SGS-1, the first satellite of its kind to be owned by the Kingdom, is expected to provide telecommunications capabilities, stronger internet connectivity, TV, as well as secure communications in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe region. It is also in line with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to localize strategic technologies in the Kingdom, increase local content and enable Saudi young people to work with advanced state-of-the-art technologies, especially in the field of manufacturing and development.

saudi arabia sgs-1 satelite

Through the capacity of providing 35 gigabits per second, the SGS-1 is hailing “a new era” in the Kingdom, providing secure satellite communication on the KA-band for the government of Saudi Arabia. The Ka-band will allow higher bandwidth communication to support greater frequency reuse in geographically isolated spots.

Hybrid propelling systems on the Saudi communications satellite has helped to reduce the satellite’s weight while increasing its life expectancy. It has a life expectancy of over 20 years and weighs 6.5 ton. The satellite also uses advanced technologies to provide highly secured and anti-interference telecommunications.

The development of SGS-1 was created in collaboration with Lockheed Martin International, a global security and aerospace company, which began its relationship with Saudi Arabia in 1965. As stated by Joseph Rank, Chief Executive for Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, the company intends to deliver advanced technology and security solutions to the Saudi government and also the commercial sector in support of Vision 2030.

The agreement of the launch was announced in 2015 and service between Arianespace, Arabsat and KACST. The satellite was assembled at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Denver, Colorado and Sunnyvale, California. The SGS-1 is set to be the 46th Lockheed Martin satellite to be launched by Arianespace.

The SGS-1 will be managed and operated by Saudi national personnel from ground stations based in Saudi Arabia. The satellite features a multi-beam payload which delivers a total throughput of over 34Gbps, as well as solar panels, generating power with a total capacity of 20 kW. Adding to that, SGS-1 also brings a communication Ku-band payload dedicated to Greek-Cypriot Hellas-sat, a subsidiary of the Riyadh-based Arabsat.

According to the SGS-1 Program Director from KACST, the institution so far has launched 15 satellites into the low Earth orbit. KACST has also collaborated with China to explore the far side of the moon through the Chang’e 4 mission. It also provided advanced services for remote-sensing systems and participated in the launch of an advanced system for maritime monitoring and tracking with satellite data, including daily coverage of 30,000 vessels worldwide.

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