|Headquarters||Riyadh, Saudi Arabia|
The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (often abbreviated as Arabsat) is a communications satellite operator in the Arab World, headquartered in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Arabsat was created to deliver satellite-based, public and private telecommunications services to the Arab States, in accordance with International Standards. With 21 member countries, the organization plays a vital role of enhancing communications in the Arab World.
The Arabsat satellites are a series of geostationary communications satellites launched from 1985 through 2019. Some of the later satellites in the series remain operational in orbit, while others have been retired and are derelict.
The foundation of Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) dates from the late 1960s. In 1967, information ministers of Arab states developed a series of principles in relation to a satellite network, to create an integration of social and cultural activities among the Arab League countries. On the other hand, the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) was established in 1969. Saudi Arabia did not join this Egypt-led and Cairo-based union until 1974, most probably due to the tense relationship between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the time.
On 14 April 1976, Arabsat was formed under Arab League jurisdiction with the goal of serving the information, cultural and educational needs of its member states. Saudi Arabia was the main financier of the new organization due to its expanded financial resources as a result of its flourishing oil-exporting industry. Riyadh housed Arabsat's headquarters.
The first launch Arabsat-1A was performed by a French Ariane rocket. The American Space Shuttle Discovery launched Arabsat's second satellite, Arabsat-1B, in 1985. Arabsat-1A and -1B were switched off in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
Arabsat-1 was the model designator for a series of first-generation satellites built by an international team led by Aérospatiale of France. It is a satellite with three-axis stabilized Spacebus 100 spacecraft with two deployable solar array wings, making it almost 68 ft (20.7 m) long and over 18 ft (5.5 m) wide when deployed in orbit. It weighs about 2,800 lb (1,270 kg) in its initial orbit, but some 1,490 lb (675 kg) of this is propellant. It has an onboard low-thrust motor that utilizes hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, and transfers from an initial elliptical to geosynchronous orbit by firing this motor. The remaining propellant is then used for station-keeping or moving over the life of the satellite.
Arabsat-1A, the first Arabsat satellite, was launched by Ariane on 8 February 1985. Shortly after launch it suffered a solar panel extension malfunction. Coupled with other failures, the satellite was soon relegated to backup status until it was abandoned completely in late 1991.
Arabsat-1B, the second flight model, was deployed in June 1985, from the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-51-G, and placed into service near 26.0° East, and remained in operation until mid-1992.
Arabsat-1C, the third satellite of the series, was launched by Ariane on 26 February 1992, as a stop-gap measure to maintain network services until the Arabsat second generation spacecraft became available.
Arabsat-1D, was renamed from the Anik-D2 (a Hughes HS-376 bus originally carrying 24 active C-band transponders).
By the end of 1994, the Arabsat system had been reduced to only one operational satellite. A contract for two Arabsat second-generation satellites was signed with Aérospatiale in April 1993, to build several additional comsats based on the Spacebus 3000A platform.
Arabsat-2A, was launched on 9 July 1996.
Arabsat-2B, was launched on 13 November 1996.
Arabsat-2C was leased from PAS-5 in May 2002 and moved from the Western Hemisphere during November 2002 to a position at 26.0° E.
Arabsat-2D was leased from Hot Bird 5 and moved from the position 13.0° E during November 2002 to a position at 26.0° E.
On 7 November 1996, a contract was signed with Aérospatiale (Alcatel) to provide the first of the third-generation satellites, to be based on a Spacebus 3000B2 platform.
BADR-3 (technically: Arabsat-3A), weighed 2,708 kilograms (5,970 lb) (at launch) and 1,646 kilograms (3,629 lb) (in orbit), was launched by a launcher Ariane-44L (# 28) (V-116) from ELA-2 at Centre Spatial Guyanais at 26.0° East with a lifespan of 15 years, as the first satellite of the third generation, on 26 February 1999 at 22:44:00 UTC. Half of its 20 transponders Ku were switched off on 7 December 2001 after a solar-panel malfunction.
Arabsat let a contract on 22 October 2003 for the manufacture and launch of the fourth generation of Arabsat satellites, based on the Astrium's Eurostar E2000+ platform and Alcatel Space payload. The first of these, Arabsat-4A, was lost in space due to a launcher failure. This led to the ordering of BADR-6 (technically: Arabsat-4AR) on 31 May 2006. The second fourth generation satellite, named BADR-4 (technically: Arabsat-4B), was launched on 8 November 2006. BADR-6 was launched on 7 July 2008 on an Ariane 5, to replace the lost Arabsat-4A.
In July 2019, some of the biggest football authorities that control the Premier League, World Cup and Champions League, called on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stop its homegrown piracy of TV and streaming service, illicitly broadcasting matches globally via Arabsat. Saudi was strongly criticized in a letter issued by sports bodies including, FIFA, UEFA, Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga and Italy's Serie A along with the Asian Football Confederation. The letter was issued after 18 months of failed efforts at legally challenging Saudi Arabia to block beoutQ for pirate broadcasting the entire World Cup 2018. The authorities said in a joint statement, "We collectively condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing theft of our intellectual property by the pirate broadcaster known as beoutQ and call on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to support us in ending the widespread and flagrant breaches of our intellectual property rights".
The sporting bodies have also accused nine Saudi Arabian legal firms of not taking on their copyright infringement case, following which the authorities are seeking to adopt other means for the shut down of the state-run broadcaster.
As of August 2016, Arabsat owns six operational satellites, at three orbital positions: 20° East, 26° East and 30.5° East.