SpaceX could foot $50m Spacecom bill from satellite destruction

5 Sep 2016

Image via SpaceX

Following the explosion of one of its Falcon 9 rockets last week, SpaceX is now likely to be told to pay $50m in damages to the Israeli firm Spacecom after its AMOS-6 satellite was destroyed in the explosion.

Still reeling from the “anomaly on the pad” that resulted in the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad on 1 September, SpaceX is now coming to terms with the financial fallout from its partners.

The Falcon 9’s mission was to launch a number of satellites – including Facebook’s latest internet-beaming satellite – into space. The satellites were lost in the explosion.

Future Human

Now, according to Reuters, the Israeli company Spacecom, which had its AMOS-6 satellite on board the Falcon 9, will be seeking $50m or a free flight from SpaceX for the destruction of its satellite.

The AMOS-6 satellite was to be leased by Facebook and satellite operator Eutelsat to roll out Mark Zuckerberg’s project to connect remote parts of the world to the internet.

With the satellite now in smithereens, both Facebook and Eutelsat plan to find other means of getting a communications satellite over Africa, which could harm SpaceX’s reputation as a private space payload provider.

Spacecom takeover on the rocks

In a statement via email to Reuters, SpaceX would not disclose what insurance cover was in place for this explosion.

For Spacecom, the $50m it is asking of SpaceX could be added to $205m it is seeking from Israel Aerospace Industries, which built the AMOS-6 satellite.

The destruction of the satellite has had major implications for Spacecom. The company was set to be sold to the Chinese tech firm Beijing Xinwei for $275m, on the condition of a successful launch of AMOS-6.

Spacecom’s share value dropped by 9pc immediately after the explosion, but, following the suspension of trading on its shares on 4 September, the company’s stock has fallen by another 34pc.

Beijing Xinwei has said in a statement that it is now discussing with Spacecom where to go from here in terms of the takeover.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic