This is what Ofer Doron, the director of the aerospace industry's Mabat Hallel plant, said in an interview with the Hadaan website following the deal in which Facebook purchased all the Internet transmission capacity on the Amos 6 satellite for five years with the aim of providing free internet to Africa. For the satellites and for the company
The deal to purchase the Internet capacity for the Amos 6 satellite, which is currently being built in the aerospace industry for the Space Communications Company, testifies to Israel's ability to manufacture satellites - but it is still in danger of being closed. This is what Ofer Doron, CEO of the Aerospace Industry's Mabat Space plant, says in an interview with the website Hidan: "The European and US governments are investing huge capital in the development of communication satellites that are then used by their operators, the State of Israel is not really investing. The situation is very difficult to the point of questioning this ability. I hope that we will be able to launch in the near future with Amos 7. If not, it will be very difficult to maintain the ability to produce satellites. From this point of view, the news of the purchase of Amos 6's internet capacity is good news, but despite this, there is a big shadow hanging over us of the closing of the capacity. We are definitely at a crossroads."
How will Facebook and Utelsat's deal with Space Communications benefit the Israeli space industry in general and the aerospace industry (satellite manufacturer) in particular?
Ofer Doron: "On a practical level for us, the transaction does not affect the aerospace industry at all. The satellite is in the final stages of construction and is operating as planned. Amos 6 was designed in advance with a particularly large capacity to be used as an Internet corridor, especially in Africa, and the prediction of the space company for the need for Internet in Africa was successful. I believe that the agreement does good and for them, even though the transaction does not directly affect Amos 6, it strengthens the position of the Israeli space industry, which is able to provide a satellite at the forefront of global technology and strengthens the position of Haal Communication as a first-rate operator. Since the client is specifically Facebook, the deal is receiving positive reviews.
How much is the deal worth, 100 million dollars out of the cost of the satellite?
The cost of the satellite in space is around 300 million dollars, but even after the launch there are operating expenses, so this cost is only a small part of the total cost of operating the satellite.
A book about the construction process of the satellite?
"We started building Amos 6 about three years ago. It is the largest satellite built by us and weighs 5.3 tons, it has an advanced antenna, some in KA frequencies that were designed in advance to give a huge bandwidth to the Internet, and some for a normal communication satellite (mainly TV). Amos 6 is a very complex satellite and we are proud of it. It is in the final tests after we have already finished construction and it is expected to be launched from Cape Canaveral using SpaceX's Falcon 9 launcher."
As for where this field is going?
"The field of communication satellites is moving towards internet services from space, there are masses of people in developed and less developed countries and not developed at all who do not have internet, even in the US, it will be expensive to connect a farmer in the middle of Iowa with cables and optical fibers. In some places satellite communication is an alternative to cables and in some places it is the only way connect internet A space company bet on this direction. Now that Facebook is entering the field for Facebook, Halal's bet was successful, but as far as I'm concerned, it's about four more customers, the satellite was built in Israel, the owner is an Israeli company, and Utelsat and Facebook use it."
Does the success this time increase the chance that they will order another satellite from you?
Unfortunately, I don't think we will order another satellite so soon. But the stability of a space company is very important to its ability to acquire additional satellites and thanks to this it is important to the ability to preserve the blue and white communication satellite industry that has developed over the years with great effort without significant government funding, contrary to what happens in most of the world and strengthening a space company increases its possibility to build new satellites which is critical For the ability to continue developing and producing Israeli satellites.
"The need for the connection of the State of Israel to the world to be made through Israeli satellites operated from Israel is strategic, and thus we do not face any dangers."
What about exports? Talk about the sale of an Amos-like satellite to Italy that was cancelled?
"We are constantly trying to export, but it is not easy. The market is difficult and very political in most of its aspects. There is very little procurement of satellites outside the countries themselves. We make great efforts to export it is very not easy. The likelihood that we will become a major satellite manufacturer in the field of communications is not high, therefore the continued existence of the industry depends on the strength of the Israeli market, i.e. the communications space, and significant government spending on this issue is required to continue to revive the line of communications satellites, and to develop the next generations.
How will the agreement affect the communication space in particular, and the Israeli market in general?
"It will not really affect the Israeli market except for the effect on our company. The satellite mainly covers Africa in wideband KA with many beams. It has 36 beams, of which 24 are active at the same time."
Omri Arnon, Communications Space: Facebook's choice of us gives a sign of quality to both the satellites and the company.
"Regarding communication space, it is clear that this is a very important deal for us. First of all, it is about the fact that we managed to be the first with a multibeam satellite over Africa." Says Omri Arnon, VP of Marketing of Halal Communications. "We anticipated this in advance, since planning for the satellite began already five years ago. Competitors had less technologically advanced satellites, but I think the two companies that signed the deal with us saw the capabilities of Amos 6 and decided to choose it after we worked with them for a long time. They took all the KA capacity. But the satellite also has KU capacity that enables television services and other services over Europe and the Middle East."
What is the importance of the fact that the purchaser of the capacity is a large company like Facebook?
"Facebook operates the Internt.org project whose goal is to spread the Internet to areas that do not have Internet, or those that have Internet but it is not sufficient. The fact that they chose us after very careful work is very important. This is the first time they have chosen any satellite, and certainly on such a scale. Facebook is a brand that definitely means something. I think that choosing us gives a sign of quality to both the satellites and the company."
What about another satellite?
"Planning and building a satellite takes many years from the moment the planning begins until the launch. At this point there is already a thought in the barrel about the next satellite. We are constantly working to increase our fleet of satellites, and we currently have four active satellites. Amos 6 will replace Amos 2 and add capabilities, services and coverage. Amos 6 is almost like two large satellites by themselves - both the KA and KU satellites are large, with only the KU part being larger than the entire capacity of Amos 2. This plays in our favor and we continue to develop the company."
Will you also order the next satellite in the aerospace industry?
Arnon: "We will definitely consider it. We score as much as anyone else. To this day, all but one of our satellites were made by the aerospace industry."