Abu Dhabi satellite undergoes preparations for Thursday's launch

The Y1A communications spacecraft will provide communications capabilities to 20 countries.

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ABU DHABI // The first commercial satellite developed by telecommunications company Yahsat was fitted to a rocket as officials prepare for its scheduled launch from South America later this week.

The Y1A spacecraft will go through a series of functional tests and launch rehearsals before the missile is moved into position for blastoff from French Guiana, according to the Al Yah Satellite Communications Co, or Yahsat.

The Araine 5 rocket that will carry it, made by the European Space Agency, is scheduled to lift off as early as 3am UAE time on Thursday. Only about 15 per cent of all satellite launches from the Arianespace centre take place on schedule, though most take place within a three-day window.

In the days before the launch the rocket and its boosters will be filled with 130 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 25 tonnes of hydrogen, which will help push the missile into its planned orbit almost 36,000 kilometers above sea level.

Meanwhile, engineers inside mission control at Al Falah, about 50km outside the capital, will co-ordinate last-minute changes and direct the satellite once it is in space.

The satellite, which weighs 3 tonnes and has a wingspan of 30 meters, will beam down commercial television and broadband internet services to 20 countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It will also offer communications for the defence sectors of those nations.

A second satellite, the Y1B, will be launched in the first quarter of next year, bringing the total investment for the space programme to Dh4.4 billion.
Yahsat is owned by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company controlled by the Abu Dhabi Government.