TELECOM: Hellas Sat4 satellite launch opens new chapter for Cyprus, Greece

06 February, 2019

Hellas Sat 4, the joint Greek and Cypriot high-capacity communications satellite owned by Arabsat, was successfully launched into orbit on Tuesday, on board ArianeSpace’s first launch of the year from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

The launch of the satellite opens a new chapter in the space history for Cyprus and Greece, Communications and Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastasiadou said from the Kourou Space Centre.

The minister referred to the geopolitical, technological and commercial benefits of Hellas Sat 4 and added that “we are proud to see the flags of the two countries accompany the satellite in its space orbit.”

The launch at 22.01 CET (23.01 Cyprus/Greece) on board the Ariane 5 rocket, was broadcast live in Europe, the Middle East and India, as well as by the venture’s sister satellite, Hellas Sat 3.

The new satellite, said to be Lockheed Martin’s largest commercial satellite, will deliver TV, internet and mobile phone services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, linking European air travellers to Wi-Fi, and relaying video and data signals across India. It was launched together with the parent’s Arabsat-6A, both of which were commissioned by Arabsat/Hellas Sat and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology of Saudi Arabia.

After nearly 40 minutes of flight time, Hellas Sat 4 was positioned at 39 degrees east, next to Hellas Sat 3 which was launched into space in June 2017.

Christodoulos Protopapas, the venture’s CEO and President of the Hellenic Space Agency, said the mission is to provide innovative satellite services, expanding the operations of Hellas Sat in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.

“Hellas Sat 4 is one of the most modern in the world, based on the LM 2100 series of satellites with a successful presence in the specific market, also optimised with state-of-the-art technology regarding its power supply,” said Protopapas.

“Hellas Satellite 4 is equipped with state-of-the-art solar energy collectors which look like sails that will open up (multi-mission modular solar array technology),” Protopapas explained, adding that thanks to the innovative technology behind the powering of the satellite, it will be able to remain longer in orbit.

“Arabsat-6A and its companion satellite, Hellas Sat 4/SaudiGeoSat-1 are the most advanced commercial communications satellites we've ever built,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space for Lockheed Martin.

“The modernised LM 2100 that these satellites are built on is packed with new innovations, including solar arrays that are 30% lighter and 50% more powerful, upgraded flight software and more efficient propulsion capabilities resulting in longer maneuver life. Those improvements will deliver greater precision, performance and value in orbit.”

Both satellites have been designed for a 15-year service life.

Commenting on the Hellas Sat 4 launch, Giorgos Komodromos, head of the Electronic Communications Department at the Cyprus Ministry of Transport, told the Financial Mirror that it is “another milestone for Cyprus as the satellite is marked with the Cypriot flag and is to be positioned in airspace allocated to Cyprus and Greece” by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Explaining that Cypriot consumers do not rely so much on satellite services, as Cyprus has a good ground network, the services provided by satellites like the Hellas Sat fleet are complementary to television and internet services.

Komodromos said that the launch of satellites into airspace allocated to Cyprus will benefit the country as companies taking advantage of Cyprus’ airspace and frequencies pay fees to the Republic.

“Satellites also require infrastructure on the ground as satellites need to be supported and monitored around the clock. Hellas Sat and CyTA have two ground infrastructure and operations in Kofinou and Kakorakia, respectively.

Komodromos concluded that satellites like Hellas Sat 4 will have a complementary, but essential role to play once the country makes the leap to 5G broadband internet technology, as it will fill in the gaps of the ground network.

Commenting from Kourou, Minister Anastasiades said that the presence of Hellas Sat in Cyprus since 2001, when Cyprus and Greece jointly licensed the company, “is an important step forward in strengthening our position as a successful regional satellite communications center. This agreement put Cyprus on the global satellite map.”

Thanking Hellas Sat CEO Christodoulos Protopapas, and all who worked tirelessly for this launch, she pledged that the Ministry will remain committed to support and facilitate the activities of satellite providers in Cyprus.

Arianespace said in an announcement that it opened its 2019 mission activity by successfully orbiting a pair of telecommunications spacecraft – Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 (HS-4/SGS-1) and GSAT-31 – using the company’s workhorse Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël confirmed the success in post-launch comments from the Spaceport’s Jupiter control room.

“For the first Ariane 5 launch of the year, our heavyweight vehicle has once more performed flawlessly,” he said. “Congratulations to all!”

“Deployed first in the flight sequence 27 minutes after liftoff, HS-4/SGS-1 is a geostationary “condosat” for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Greek-Cypriot satellite operator Hellas Sat, an Arabsat subsidiary. Designed, assembled and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space, HS-4/SGS-1 will operate from an orbital position of 39 deg. East, with a coverage area that includes Europe, South Africa and the Middle East,” Arianespace said.

It added that the Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1 communications payload will provide advanced Ka-band spot beam communications services for KACST, a government organisation responsible for promoting science and technology in Saudi Arabia. The Hellas Sat 4 communications payload will deliver advanced Ku-band regional beam communications services for the Arabsat subsidiary.