Intelsat To Build An Earth Station In South Africa

Intelsat, a communications satellite service corporation has recently filed a C-band spectrum transition plan with the FCC in compliance with the new requirements set by the FCC.

The plan detail the construction and launch of seven satellites by the company to improve its capacity and the consolidation of the company’s Telemetry, Tracking and Control “TT&C” antennas in the East and West coast of the United States. It also includes the migration of customers to upper 200MHz of the C-band, changes in affiliate Earth Stations and installation of new equipment. As part of the changes in affiliate Earth Station plans, the 13M antenna for Intelsat 14, 902, 903, 904 and 905 will be moved from Hagerstown, MD and Atlanta, GA to Hartebeesthoek in South Africa.

According to section 4.2.3 of the filed Intelsat C-Band Clearing Transition Plan,

Multiple Intelsat 9-series satellites will go into inclined orbit operation over the next five years and once inclined, will not be supportable by the East Coast consolidated teleport due to look-angle restrictions at both sites that are under consideration. Primary TT&C operations for each of these satellites will continue to occur at Intelsat’s Fuchsstadt teleport in Germany, but the back-up TT&C mission currently being supported in Atlanta or Hagerstown will be transitioned to a single TT&C rover antenna to be constructed in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa. This same rover antenna will also provide back-up TT&C services for Intelsat 14. Planning for these activities will commence in late 2020, and the antennas will be ready for operation in Q2 2023“.

Hartebeesthoek is a hotspot for communications in South Africa. In the past, NASA has set up Deep Space Station 51 (DSS-51), a 26-meter (85 foot) antenna near Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, outside Johannesburg. The area also hosts several antennas for the Square Kilometre Array project being built in South Africa.

South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Space Operations unit also operates an array of antennas and several ground stations, based at Hartebeesthoek. The centre hosts full-motion TT & C (telemetry, tracking and command) antennas and remote sensing systems across L, S, C, Ext C, X, Ku, DBS and Ka frequency bands, as well as S-band for mobile support. In August 2019, the agency disclosed its plans to develop 20 more antennas, in addition to its fleet of 50 antennas.

Intelsat has been maintaining a good business presence in Africa in the past years. In January, Intelsat alongside satellite operators like Avanti Hylas-2 Ltd, Eutelsat, Immarsat, OneWeb, SES-owned NSS Licensee and Yahsat were granted licenses to provide coverages over Nigeria. In April 2020, Intelsat announced an incredible milestone with Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) – connecting the 1,000th remote site and bringing access to 3.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.