NewSat satellite operator was the largest independent satellite communications provider in Australia since 2011. Its satellites, VSAT’s and teleports provide coverage to 75% of the earth’s surface. NewSat CEO Adrian Ballintine and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded the company in 1987. NewSat started as a multimedia business. It survived the dotcom crash to evolve into a fully-fledged satellite communications company. Most NewSat customers were located in Australia, the Middle-East and Africa.
NewSat’s Jabiru fleet of commercial Ku- and Ka-band satellites was providing high-powered, flexible capacity over South-East Asia, the Middle-East and North Africa. The Jabiru-1 Ka-band satellite was scheduled for launch in 2016.
Jabiru-2 was to deliver enhanced coverage over Australia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. NewSat had rights to eight premium orbital slots and its fleet of next generation geostationary satellites would lead Australia’s space quest.
Mid-February 2014 NewSat had secured funding (around 400 million USD) that allowed to proceed with construction of the Jabiru-1 satellite, and had paid Lockheed Martin close to 170 million USD, out of a expected total cost of 268 million USD. Total project cost was expected to be 600 million USD (AU$664 million), including 116 million USD for the rocket to put the satellite in orbit in the second half of 2015. At that time, NewSat confirmed that 18% capacity of the satellite had already been sold, at an estimated value of AU$644 million.
In early August 2014, NewSat got a conditional waiver over alleged breaches of financial facilities, to continue with the Jabiru-1 project. At that time, it was expected that the satellite would be assembled in late 2014 and tested in 2015. In late January 2015, Lockheed Martin, the Jabiru-1 satellite builder, issued NewSat a termination notice due to a defaulted payment of 21 million USD (A$26.5 million); giving a period of up to 90 days to make payments without further impact.
With the withdrawal of combat troops in Afghanistan and with the Australian mining boom winding down, the services for NewSat’s teleport business started to wane. Having made a 40 million USD loss in the second half of 2014 and with 300 million USD in outstanding loan repayments, mid April 2015 NewSat filed for Chapter-11 bankruptcy protection and terminated the contracts with Lockheed Martin and launch operator Arianespace. In 2015 NewSat ceased operations and sold it’s teleport facilities in Perth and Adelaide to SpeedCast Australia Pty, Ltd. for 12 million USD.
NewSat owned and operated two Asia Pacific based teleports in Perth (Western Australia) and Adelaide (South Australia) that provided a full range of C- and Ku-band services and satellite connectivity from Australia, Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, across the Indian Ocean extending into Europe and across the Pacific Ocean, reaching into the West Coast of the USA.
Both teleports were Top 3 Finalists in the World Teleport Association’s 2012 “Awards for Excellence” and made the 2014, 2013 and 2012 “Top Operator Rankings”.
Satellite operator Measat from Malaysia, who originally planned to use the communications payload of Jabiru-1 with NewSat, reportedly failed to buy the satellite despite offering upto 250 million USD.
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www.itnews.com.au edition July 10th, 2015
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