SatellitePro ME speaks to two of the four Es’hailSat engineers currently undergoing a two-year intensive satellite training programme at Space Systems/ Loral’s Palo Alto site in California. The engineering candidates are rotating through skills development in various departments at Space Systems/Loral, following the Es’hail 1 satellite through design, manufacture, test and launch.
Es’hailSat CEO, Ahmed Ali Al-Kuwari expressed satisfaction at being able to provide the first satellite training programme in the country to the four engineers. He said investment in local talent underpins Es’hailsat’s mission to become a world-class satellite operator in line with the goals of Qatar’s 2030 vision.
A Qatar Satellite Company (Es’hailSat) delegation, headed by al-Kuwari, visited Loral’s high-tech Palo Alto site in California to receive an update on the Es’hail 1 satellite manufacturing programme and conducted a tour of the manufacturing facilities to view the satellite. Es’hail 1 will share a spacecraft platform with the European satellite operator Eutelsat.
Commenting on the training, John Celli, president of Space Systems/Loral, said the value of hands on experience with satellite design, test and operation could not be overestimated, and the trainees from Es’hailSat had shown promise in their ability to contribute to their company’s success as a satellite operator in the Middle East.
Q & A with Es’hailSat engineers, Mohammed Al Delaimi and Thani Ali Al Malki
How and why did you join Es’hailSat?
“I was honoured and excited when Es’hailSat offered me the chance to join the company and be one of Es’hail 1’s project members representing the company in Palo Alto at the Space Systems/ Loral facilities.
“This company has the potential to become a leader in the satellite industry in the Gulf region, and to be a major service provider in the field of satellite communications in the MENA region over the long term. In addition, this company will meet Qatar’s strategic needs. I’m glad to be part of it.” – Mohammed Al Delaimi
“I first heard about the programme when I was working with another company and was amazed at the opportunity that this will provide me as a communication engineer working in my field of expertise. I feel privileged and grateful.” – Thani Ali Al Malki
How has the experience been for you at Palo Alto?
“Working with a satellite manufacturer and seeing every part of the satellite being assembled gives me an amazing insight into the knowledge and dedication that has allowed humans to conquer space.
“In addition, working closely with SSL engineers and technicians makes me believe that following procedures, learning from our mistakes, and taking the one-step- at-a-time approach is the best way towards innovation. I think the challenging part is that we (Es’hailSat engineers) are required to study and understand the satellite manufacturing phases, test and certification, material science, workflow and procedures in a time frame of two years, So, we are utilising all the resources that we have (SSL engineers, Eutelsat engineers, and consultancy agents) to improve our learning curve and pass any difficulties that we face.” – Mohammed Al Delaimi
“I think that this experience is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity that has influenced me both personally and professionally. Even though I have a communication degree that covers satellite and communication fundamentals, there is still a gap between what you can learn in theory and in practice. In addition, the bigger challenge is to stay up-to-date with the new technologies that come into the satellite industry each year.” – Thani Ali Al Malki
How will Es’hail 1 be superior to the satellite it is replacing – Eurobird 2?
“Eurobird 2 or Eutelsat 25A as it’s called now is a shared mission with the Es’hail 1 satellite at orbital slot 25.5° East. Es’hail 1 satellite has the necessary capacity to enable its customers to substantially increase their communications capability such as broadcasting in HD and 3D. Also it has a resilient configuration to overcome natural component failures through built-in redundancy.” – Mohammed Al Delaimi
“The Es’hail 1 satellite has a lot of upgraded hardware and software that is designed to support superior and advanced services such as the latest on-board processor and advance pointing accuracy systems to provide optimised coverage.” – Thani Ali Al Malki
Speaking after visiting the US facilities of Space Systems/Loral, the satellite manufacturing firm, Qatar Satellite Company CEO Ali Ahmad al-Kuwari said the objective behind the next year’s launch of Es’hail 1 and future satellites planned was to provide “high quality, independent” satellite services to customers throughout the Middle East and North Africa besides supporting Qatar’s commitment to meeting the sophisticated communications needs required to host FIFA’s World Cup in 2022.