Spaceflight Insider

Arabsat’s latest communications satellite assembled in preparation for flight

Artist's depiction of Arabsat-6A affixed to the Falcon Heavy's second stage. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

Artist’s depiction of Arabsat-6A affixed to the Falcon Heavy’s second stage. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

The Arabsat-6A satellite has completed primary assembly and has been shipped to Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California facilities to begin testing in preparation for flight.

“This new satellite will strengthen our existing fleet that offers millions of people mobile and landline communications service across the region,” said Khalid Balkheyour, CEO of Arabsat via a release. “We look forward to completing and launching this state-of-the-art new satellite to offer even greater internet, television and radio services to our customers.”

When Arabsat-6A was transported from Denver to Sunnyvale, the satellite was housed inside of a “mobile clean room.” This container ensures that the spacecraft was kept safe and secure.

“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 via a statement issued by the company. “The modernized LM 2100 that these satellites are built on is packed with new innovations, including solar arrays that are 30 percent lighter and 50 percent 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.”   

If everything goes according to plan, Arabsat-6A should deliver TV, internet and mobile phone services to the Middle East, Africa and Europe after it is launched atop of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A later this year (2018).

 has completed assembly on the Arabsat-6A satellite, which was recently shipped to its y to begin a comprehensive series of tests to ensure the satellite is ready for operations in orbit.

Using the second of Lockheed Martin’s LM 2100 series satellites (Lockheed Martin is building five modernized LM 2100 satellites). The Colorado-based company produced Arabsat-6A as part of a two-satellite Arabsat-6G initiative for Arabsat. The other satellite in the Arabsat 6G program, dubbed Hellas Sat 4 (SaudiGeoSat-1), completed assembly in November of 2017 and was also sent to Sunnyvale. 

In California, the spacecraft will be tested to undergo all of the stresses that it can be expected to encounter on its way to orbit. Sound, high and low temperatures as well as being placed in a vacuum. It is hoped that these tests will validate the spacecraft prior to its flight on on-orbit operations. If so, Arabsat-6A will be shipped to Florida’s Space Coast in preparation for flight.




Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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