Final preparations for the historic launch of the Intelsat New Dawn satellite – carrying Nelson Mandela's signature – are on track for tomorrow (30 March) evening.
Tomorrow morning the satellite, loaded in an Ariane 5 rocket, is expected to be rolled from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone. It will be readied for lift-off that day during a launch window that opens at 6:45 pm local time in French Guiana (11:45 pm inSouth Africa), and continues to 7:52 pm (12:52 am in South Africa).
The project has also received a symbolic ‘boost’ from the image of Nelson Mandela’s signature, which is featured on the rocket’s fairing.
The New Dawn project was created through a joint venture between Intelsat and a South African investor group led by Convergence Partners, which also includes Altirah Telecoms and the not-for-profit Convergence Partners Foundation. The project was funded though a combination of equity from Intelsat and the Convergence Partners Consortium, and debt funding via an innovative structure that has maximized African participation in the project. Debt providers comprise Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation and the African Development Bank.
Operating from a geostationary orbital slot at 32.8º East, Intelsat New Dawn will serve Africa through a payload optimised to deliver new capacity for wireless backhaul, fixed line and wireless infrastructure, broadband and media – the fastest growing satellite-based applications in Africa.
The satellite’s 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units are designed specifically to supply critical communications infrastructure for African customers, who have experienced exceptional growth along with the development of the region.
The historic launch can be viewed via live stream on www.intelsatnewdawn.com.