The explosion which destroyed Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite on a Florida launchpad last Thursday will not be a total loss for the company—at least financially.
The communication satellite’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), confirmed on Sunday that it will compensate Spacecom for the loss. As the insurer, IAI will be obligated to pay over $173 million plus interest, a company official said.
According to the insurance policy, IAI will have to pay the amount “in under 60 days,” a spokesperson for the firm said.
In addition, the Israeli company said it expects to receive either $50 million from SpaceX or “have the launch of a future satellite carried out under the existing agreement and with the payments that have [already] been made.”
Additional insurers are expected to pay SpaceCom another $39 million, the company said in a statement.
However, the value of Amos-6 was not the only thing at stake. The launch failure could jeopardize a pending sale of the private Israeli firm to China’s Xinwei group, reportedly worth $285 million. And in the meantime, the company’s shares lost almost half their value on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
The company’s entire future is at stake, and the status of Israel’s space effort has come under fresh scrutiny, as well.
“There is a major question about the launch and I very much hope that SpaceCom is strong enough to overcome these things and to order a new satellite,” Israel Space Agency head Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael told Israeli radio on Friday.
“If it orders a new satellite, it will take between two and three years to fill the gap,” he said.
MK Nahman Shai (Zionist Camp) sent a letter to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Avi Dichter (Likud), contending that the Spacecom setback exposed the weakness of the country’s space program and actually imperiled Israel’s security:
“The destruction of the Amos-6 satellite revealed the Israeli space program for what it is. Despite lofty and inflated words, the Israeli space program is standing on shifting sand . It is built on improvisations and on [a miniscule] available budget.
“Together with Amos-6, damage has been caused to the long-term security of Israel, and there is currently no way to rehabilitate it. Israel, as usual, is living from hand to mouth but, in this case, such an admission has direct implications for Israel’s security,” Shai said.
Israel’s satellite program had already been subject to criticism by the State Comptroller. Haaretz reported concerns about “serious long-term planning gaps in the development of such satellites.”
IAI director-general Yossi Weiss acknowledged the seriousness of the setback, but remained hopeful for the future.
Weiss told Arutz Sheva that his first reaction was shock at the realization that four or five years of the labor of hundreds of engineers were blown to pieces in the single explosion.
But he expressed the hope that with the help of the Israeli government, IAI will recover its leading position in the satellite industry.