QuetzSat is a Mexican-controlled company comprised of SES AMERICOM, Inc, that time the largest North American satellite operator and currently SES S.A. headquartered in Luxembourg and Mexican investors (Grupo MedCom, Ricardo Rios Ferrer, Luis Martinez Arguello). Quetzsat was formed to operate the Quetzsat-1 satellite to provide direct broadcasting services to the United States and parts of Mexico for Dish Mexico.
On November 26th, 2004 satellite-fleet operators SES and EchoStar Corp. reached an agreement on co-financing a large direct-broadcast television satellite to be placed in a Mexican orbital slot that both companies have been cultivating for more than three years.
The agreement followed on the creation of a satellite-television joint venture between EchoStar and MVS Comunicaciones, a Mexican telecommunications company, to launch the Dish Mexico satellite TV service. MVS already operated a pay-TV service called MASTV with 570,000 subscribers in 11 Mexican cities.
SES and EchoStar initially agreed in 2004 to join forces to augment the satellite capacity available to Dish Network using a Mexican orbital slot at 77° West. EchoStar and Dish Network were split into separate companies, both publicly traded and majority-owned by Charlie Ergen.
A company, QuetzSat, S.R.L. de C.V., was created to bid at auction for the Mexican 77° West orbital position and in late 2004 won rights to develop the slot after paying 153 million Mexican pesos (14 million USD). The auction included a guarantee that the Mexican government would have free access to a certain amount of the future satellite’s capacity.
With the approach of a regulatory deadline requiring that the 77° West orbital slot be filled by July 2005, EchoStar moved its aging and damaged EchoStar-4 spacecraft into the position.
The satellite has remained there since, with little or no function aside from occupying the position. It remained unclear how much capacity it had available for satellite TV channels and how much longer it could remain operational.
In June 2005 EchoStar asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approval to move two more satellites to the Mexican position. The two satellites (EchoStar-2 and EchoStar-8) would replace EchoStar-4.
EchoStar-2, launched in September 1996, had been expected to operate until 2011. Dish Network confirmed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in July that the satellite had experienced “a substantial failure that appears to have rendered the satellite a total loss”. EchoStar-8, launched in August 2002, was designed to operate until 2017 and was originally located at 110° West. EchoStar-8 satellite had arrived at the Mexican slot and the company was awaiting regulatory authority to begin operations.
QuetzSat-1 is a high-power geostationary satellite located at 77° West longitude and was built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L). It is equipped with 32 Ku-band transponders and at launch it had a mass of 5,514 kilograms (12,156 lb). QuetzSat-1 is part of the SES satellite fleet.
The satellite was launched by ILS (International Launch Services) using a Proton-M carrier rocket with a Briz-M upper stage from site 200 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at 18:32 GMT on Sept. 29th 2011. The launch successfully placed QuetzSat-1 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, making it the 49th commercial satellite of the SES S.A. satellite fleet. QuetzSat-1 is an all Ku-band high-powered communications satellite with coverage of Mexico, USA and Central America, which is fully contracted to a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. and will be used in part by Dish Mexico, an EchoStar joint venture, for Direct-To-Home (DTH) services in Mexico.
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www.spacenews.com edition June 29th 2004
www.space.com edition September 30th 2011