Egypt’s TIBA-1 communications satellite is set for launch into space on 22 November onboard Ariane 5 rocket from the Spaceport in French Guiana, alongside Inmarsat-5 (GX-5).
TIBA-1, designed to remain in service in orbit for more than 15 years, will have a launch mass of 5,600 kg and an electric power capability of higher than 9 kW.
“TIBA-1 will occupy the upper passenger position in Ariane 5’s dual-payload configuration on the upcoming mission, which is designated Flight VA250 in Arianespace’s numbering system,” a statement by the launch provider declaring the “satellite fit for launch,” says.
The satellite which was developed by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space (TAS) left last month the Airbus Defence and Space clean rooms in Toulouse to French Guiana for the scheduled launch.
Airbus Defence and Space supplied the Eurostar E3000 platform and assembled and tested the spacecraft. TAS, the leading partner, designed and built the communications payload, featuring a dual mission in Ka-band for secure and broadband communications.
The Egyptian government concluded the satellite acquisition deal on the sidelines of President François Hollande of France visiting Cairo in April 2016 as part of a purchase of French military equipment reportedly worth more than USD 1 billion. The deal was a consummation of about seven months of negotiation and diplomacy involving military personnel in Cairo, and aerospace and armament companies in Paris.
In December 2018, the Egyptian government secured an extension from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to fill its orbital slot with a military communications satellite, citing launch delays as the reason for the extension.
Flight VA250 will mark Arianespace’s fourth mission in 2019 with a heavy-lift Ariane 5 and the eighth this year across its full family of launchers – which also includes the medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.