Launch of the successor to the UAE’s communications satellite Thuraya-2 - which took off in June 2003 - has been delayed. (AFP)
The UAE’s Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company (Thuraya) has postponed the launch of its third satellite to January next year due to unfavourable weather conditions, the firm’s chief said.
Consequently, the supply of commercial services in the Asia-Pacific region have also been delayed to the second quarter of 2008.
Following preliminary hiccups, Thuraya 3 was scheduled for launch in late October but the weather lead to a change in plans.
“The launch of Thuraya 3 is now scheduled for January. We expect everything to go as planned for the successful launch of Thuraya 3,” Yousuf Al Sayed, CEO of Thuraya, told Business 24/7.
The launch of the third satellite signals the countdown to Thuraya’s entry into the Asian markets.
“Following the launch of Thuraya 3, we expect the satellite in-orbit testing in about a month’s time and we expect to start commercial services in Asia-Pacific markets by the second quarter of next year,” said Al Sayed.
Meanwhile, Thuraya has completed all ground network preparations for the launch and has set up infrastructure with several partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The new satellite is part of the company’s strategic plans to expand Thuraya’s current coverage towards East Asia, covering several key Asia-Pacific markets, including China, Japan, SouthKorea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as Australia, thus doubling the population and market size under its footprint,” he said.
Thuraya’s third satellite was due for launch by the US’ Sea Launch Company in May this year but due to the explosion of the NSS 8 satellite during lift-off on January 30 and the damage caused to the floating launch platform, it was delayed. Subsequently, the launch was scheduled for October-end but unfavourable weather did not permit the launch.
Once operational, the new satellite will double Thuraya’s coverage to include all Asia-Pacific countries, allowing it to offer its handheld, fixed, broadband and maritime services in these markets.
Based on the 702 model, Thuraya 3 is the third and latest geo-mobile satellite manufactured by Boeing for Thuraya. The first two satellites, Thuraya 1 and 2, were the largest commercial satellites launched in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
Bullish about prospects, Al Sayed said the company’s expansion towards East Asia will allow it to provide voice, IP and rural telephony services to thousands of private, public and business customers in the densely populated Asian region.
Thuraya’s subscribers are now mainly based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The company distributes its products and service through authorised service providers. Its shareholders are a mixture of Middle Eastern and North African telecom companies and investment companies.