July 2016


A Giant Satellite Commences Operation Over India & Asia Pacific

On 1 June 2016, SES S.A. announced that its new SES-9 spacecraft had commenced commercial service.

The SES-9 satellite has successfully completed testing and reached its orbital position at 108.2 degrees East where it has joined SES-7 and will replace NSS-11.


SES-9, built by Boeing Satellite Systems International, is the largest SES satellite to serve the Asia-Pacific region.

This giant satellite provides the equivalent of 81 Ku Band transponders of 36 MHz each.

The new spacecraft will provide significant expansion capacity to serve the fast-growing video and mobility sectors across Northeast Asia, South Asia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The satellite will also be capable of supporting a range of Enterprise and Government applications.

SES-9 Provides 81 Ku Band Transponders Of 36 MHz Each.


The giant 5,271 kilogram spacecraft was successfully launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on 4 March 2016. Since then, the satellite has used both its chemical and electric propulsion systems to reach its assigned geostationary orbit. The satellite's platform and payload have since undergone extensive in-orbit tests.

"SES-9 is key to expanding our capabilities for DTH video broadcasting and services in Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia," said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer, SES. "Equipped with dedicated mobility beams, SES-9 is also well positioned to serve the fastgrowing maritime and aeronautical sectors. The improved performance of the Falcon 9 launcher shortened the orbit raising phase and, in combination with the use of the highly efficient SES-9 electric propulsion system, resulted in remaining fuel on board to support services well beyond its 15 years' design life. I congratulate the Boeing, SpaceX and SES teams, who together have done an excellent job."


The SES-9 is one of the first satellites in the region to use electric propulsion.

An electrically powered spacecraft propulsion system uses electrical energy to maneuver the satellite into its geo orbit and maintain it in its orbital position, for the life of the spacecraft. Conventional satellites use c h e m i c a l canisters to eject gas for maneuvering a n d maintaining position. The gas canisters account for more than 50% of the s p a c e c r a f t launch mass, and 60% of this fuel is u s u a l l y d e p l e t e d getting the staellite into its geo parking slot!

T h e spacecraft life is usually over when the gas c a n i s t e r s deplete and the satellite strays away from its orbital position.

E l e c t r i c p r o p u l s i o n systems can o p e r a t e indefinitely, in principle, and therefore provide a much longer satellite life & lighter launch mass. However, they provide much weaker thrust and therefore the satellite takes several months (as in the case of the SES-9) to reach its orbital position.


A spot beam is a satellite signal that is specially concentrated in power so that it will cover only a limited geographic area on Earth. As an example, a DTH platform catering primarily to a Tamil audience can deploy a high powered spot beam only over Tamil Nadu. Its higher signal strength will provide excellent DTH reception, and broadcasters on the platform can be ensured that the signals are not received in adjacent Sri Lanka.

Spot beams allow satellites to transmit different signals, to different regions.

Most of the Ku band transponders on the SES-9 are maneuverable spot beams, allowing SES to provide signals to specific customers in different countries, and also to provide Satellite internet to aircraft in flight.


SES has also partnered with Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd., a leading VSAT provider, to launch the SES Enterprise+ Hybrid Broadband in Asia. This innovative, hybrid broadband solution will use a Gilat VSAT terminal to provide downloads @ 20 MBps and upload via a 2G or 3G mobile SIM card. The signals could be distributed within a residence via a low cost Wi-Fi router.

SES hopes that the solution will be adopted by DTH platforms, to provide high speed broadband connections to their customers. The service could be offered commercial at a consumer friendly price of approximately US$ 10 per month for a 20 MBps download speed. (For further details, see our Q&A with SES -Ed.)

SES holds a participation in O3b Networks, a next generation Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite network deployed elsewhere, which combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fibre.


SES-9 has already secured business in advance of the satellite's entry in commercial service. SES will co-market SES-9 capacity with Indonesia's largest satellite telecommunications services company, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia, to the Indonesian market.

In addition, Sky Cable, the largest cable television provider in the Philippines, signed a multiyear, multi-transponder agreement for broadcasting DTH.