African New Dawn satellite launches today

Intelsat New Dawn, the first African private sector communications satellite, is scheduled for launch from French Guiana between 23h45 SAST on 30 March 2011 and 00h52 the following morning.

Loaded in an Ariane 5 rocket which sports Nelson Mandela’s signature on the fairing, the satellite is expected to take off from the space port’s ELA-3 launch zone.

Arianespace was selected as the launch partner and Intelsat said they will use the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range, the Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A), for this dual payload mission of the Intelsat New Dawn and Yahsat 1A telecommunications satellites.

Once launched, Intelsat New Dawn will operate from a geostationary orbital slot at 32.8 degrees East, positioned to serve Africa through a payload optimized to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and media content – the fastest growing satellite-based applications in Africa.

Intelsat New Dawn C-band Africa beam

The satellite features 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units which Intelsat said are designed to supply communications infrastructure for African customers.

The table below shows the key parameters of the satellite as provided by Intelsat on their website.

Intelsat New Dawn Key Parameters
Total Transponders C-Band:Ku-Band: 14 x 72 MHz loop-back transponders
2 x 72 MHz uplink only cross-strapped
8 x 72 MHz
8 x 36 MHz
Polarization C-Band:
Circular – Right Hand or Left Hand
Linear – Horizontal or Vertical
Downlink Frequency C-Band:
5850 to 6500 MHz
10.95 to 11.70 GHz
Typical e.i.r.p. C-Band: >34.0 dBW
Uplink Frequency C-Band:
5850 to 6425 MHz
14.00 to 14.50 GHz
Typical G/T C-Band:
>-8.6 dB/K
>-4.3 dB/K
Typical SFD Range C-Band:
-98.0 to -79.0 dBW/m²
-96.0 to -82.0 dBW/m²
Payload performance values are preliminary and may change.

Commissioned in December 2008 and built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the hybrid C-band/Ku-band satellite will be operated and marketed as a part of the global Intelsat fleet, bringing to 22 the number of Intelsat satellites serving Africa.

New Dawn is a joint-venture between a consortium led by Convergence Partners and Intelsat S.A., which Intelsat said was delivered on time and within the US$250 million budget while being approximately 90% funded from African sources.

The Convergence Partners consortium also includes strategic shareholder Altirah Telecoms and the not-for-profit Convergence Partners Foundation.

“When placed into service in the second quarter of 2011, Intelsat New Dawn will address the capacity backlog faced by African wireless telecom operators, broadband service providers, corporate network service providers and media operators who have experienced exceptional growth along with the economic development of the region,” the company said in a previous press statement.

Customers contracting for capacity in advance of the launch include Vodacom International Ltd, Gateway Communications Africa (UK) Ltd, Bharti Airtel and Gilat Satcom.

SkyeVine, a South African join venture company between Ellies Holdings Limited and Q-KON, also announced that the will deliver broadband services using Intelsat New Dawn.

According to Intelsat, a live stream of the launch will be available from the New Dawn website.

Intelesat New Dawn launch << Comments and discussion

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African New Dawn satellite launches today