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Spacecom Returns to SpaceX for One, Possibly Two Launches
SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of NROL-76.
Credit: SpaceX

Updated Oct. 19, 2017 at 11:48 a.m. Eastern.

WASHINGTON — Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has agreed to launch its next satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX in 2019, and will likely launch a second satellite on another Falcon 9 in 2020.

In a statement provided to SpaceNews Oct. 18, Spacecom said it "will use full credits from AMOS-6's unfulfilled September 2016 launch to fully cover AMOS-17's launch fees." Another statement, given to the Israeli stock exchange the same day, said the 2019 mission could launch on a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket.

Amos-6 was destroyed when its Falcon 9 launcher exploded during preparation for a static fire test two days before liftoff. Spacecom agreed to have the satellite atop the rocket to save time between testing and launch.

Amos-17, an Africa-focused telecommunications satellite being built by Boeing Satellite Systems International to last 19 years, is a replacement for a different satellite — Amos-5. Spacecom lost the ISS-Reshetnev-built Amos-5 satellite in 2015 to a power glitch  just four years into its mission.

Since February, Spacecom has been borrowing AsiaSat-8 from Hong Kong fleet operator AsiaSat. The $22 million-a-year placeholder agreement is good for four years, with the option to renew for a fifth.

Spacecom has yet to order its Amos-6 successor, which it is calling Amos-8, but said it has an option with SpaceX to launch the future satellite in the second half of 2020. The company has said that Amos-8 will probably be smaller than the 5,500-kilogram, $161 million Amos-17.

According to the Israeli stock exchange notice, Spacecom will pay the standard price of $62 million for the Amos-8 Falcon 9 launch. Spacecom can also cancel the SpaceX contracts if launch delays exceed an undisclosed amount of time.

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.