Intelsat New Dawn – the first-ever African private sector communications satellite – is scheduled to be launched on 29 March 2011 from Arianespace’s launch site in Kourou, French Guyana.
A joint-venture between a consortium led by Convergence Partners and Intelsat SA, the world’s leading provider of fixed satellite services, the New Dawn satellite and its 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units are designed specifically to supply critical communications infrastructure for African customers.
Operating from a geostationary orbital slot at 32.8 degrees East, Intelsat New Dawn will be ideally positioned to serve Africa through a payload optimised to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and media content – the fastest growing satellite-based applications in Africa.
Delivered on time and within the originally announced $250-million budget, the Intelsat New Dawn venture has been 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.
Customers contracting for capacity in advance of launch are the leading communications services providers in the region, including Vodacom International, Gateway Communications Africa (UK), Bharti Airtel (originally contracted through Celtel Nigeria) and Gilat Satcom.
Thierry Guillemin, chief technical officer of Intelsat, said, "With manufacturing of the satellite now concluding, our team transitions its focus to the launch mission in French Guiana. We will conduct tests on-site as the final preparations for this historic satellite are completed."
Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners, comments: “With a launch slot secured for Intelsat New Dawn, we are now on the cusp of seeing this landmark venture become a reality. The project has been in development for five years, with the last two-and–a-half focusing on construction. When launched, the satellite will not only deliver crucial services specifically tailored for Africa, it will also herald the dawn of a new era where Africans enjoy far greater involvement in the space communications industry.”
Commissioned in December 2008 and built by Orbital Sciences, 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.
Arianespace was selected as the launch partner and 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. The Ariane 5 launcher for the Intelsat New Dawn satellite recently arrived at the Spaceport in French Guiana, where it is being readied for the mission.