Successful lift-off for Dublin firm’s satellite rocket

4 Apr 2009

Europe’s first S-band satellite capable of delivering the next wave of mobile broadband and entertainment services lifted off successfully last night at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Dublin-based Solaris Mobile, a joint venture between two of the world’s leading satellite operators, Eutelsat Communications and SES Astra, aims to provide fully digital mobile video, navigation and emergency assistance services to broadcasters, telco operators, the automotive industry and data and communications providers.

Solaris Mobile, which is headed by former Kingston Communications CEO Steve Maine, is currently in the process of establishing its European headquarters in Dublin, where it plans to employ 50 people. It currently employs 15 people in the capital.

The company is investing €150m in establishing a two-way communications global network for satellite communications.

“The success of today’s launch means Solaris Mobile is now poised to deliver a new generation of mobile services for European consumers,| said Maine.

“With the satellite in orbit, our work begins in earnest. Since Solaris Mobile is the first company to offer a hybrid satellite and terrestrial infrastructure for European mobile services, we are determined to set the standards for mobile communication services, in terms of innovation, quality and service, that will set the tone for the rest of the industry.”

With its S-band payload, Solaris Mobile aims be the first player in this brand-new market to provide a unique and advanced next-generation network offering seamless coverage across Europe.

Called the W2A, the satellite launched yesterday belongs to Eutelsat Communications and carries two other payloads.

The S-band payload will, however, allow content providers to deliver a range of mobile TV, radio and other data content services for handhelds devices such as phones, PDAs, iPods and game consoles. Vehicle owners can also expect an exciting and innovative range of entertainment and location-based services to complement their navigation systems.

Barry O’Leary, CEO IDA Ireland, congratulated Solaris Mobile on its successful launch and said: “I am delighted to have been present in Paris to witness by video-link the inaugural launch of this satellite.

“When IDA Ireland supported Solaris Mobile in setting up its European headquarters in Dublin in June last year, this satellite was already under construction.

“Solaris is the first international satellite operator to have made an investment in Ireland, and is an important marketing reference for IDA’s continuing work to attract new business within the mobile, media and telecommunications sectors.

“Today’s successful launch will enable others to appreciate the depth of Irish talent and innovation.”

He concluded: “The Irish connection in this launch is a potent symbol of our standing as a leading innovation-led economy.”

Built by Thales Alenia Space, W2A will be fully operational at 10 degrees east around the end May, after an extensive round of in-orbit tests. The solar panels and antennas, including the state-of-the-art 12-metre S-band antenna, will be fully deployed by the end of next week.

By John Kennedy 

Image courtesy ILS International Launch Services, Inc

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years