Shares of SpaceCom, the Israeli company that was to operate the Amos 6 satellite, are expected to sink in trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Sunday. On Thursday evening, as word of the explosion reached Israel, futures of the stock were down 9 percent, but market experts expected that downward trend to strengthen as trading opens on Sunday.
In a statement to the TASE, SpaceCom said that “to the best of the company’s knowledge, during a ground fueling of the launch rocket of the Amos 6 satellite, the launch rocket exploded, which caused the total loss of the satellite. The loss of the satellite will have a substantial influence on the company. The company will continue to report on the significance of the loss.”
The satellite was to have been used by Israeli communications companies, including Bezeq and Yes, as well as a slew of foreign companies, including Facebook, which was planning to use the satellite to build a wireless data network throughout northern and central Africa.
This is the second major setback for SpaceCom in less than a year. In November 2015, the company’s Amos 5 satellite was “lost,” and all communications with it ceased. At the time, a consortium of insurance companies were involved in paying off the losses to SpaceCom, and it is presumed that a large group of insurers will compensate the company for its damages this time as well.
SpaceCom recently closed a deal to sell itself to Chinese satellite firm Xinwei, but observers said that the Chinese firm could reconsider the deal. According to Globes, the deal depended, among other things, on the successful launch of Amos 6.
Initial investigations into the reasons for the explosion of the SpaceX rocket that was to lift the advanced Israeli satellite into orbit over the weekend indicated that a faulty fuel line into the rocket’s hydrogen tank was to blame. The investigation team is now trying to determine exactly how the explosion took place. SpaceCom said that the launch of another craft scheduled for November was likely to proceed.
In its own statement, SpaceCom said that the company “has begun the careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for yesterday’s incident. We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly. We deeply regret the loss of Amos 6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority. SpaceCom’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion. In the aftermath of the events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers, as well as NASA and the United States Air Force, have placed in us.”