Mexican Telecom Authorities Undeterred Despite MexSat-1 Loss

Mexican Telecom Authorities Undeterred Despite MexSat-1 Loss

In a press conference following the failed launch attempt of Mexico’s MexSat-1 on Saturday, leaders of Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) celebrated the government’s foresight in acquiring comprehensive launch insurance, allowing the government to recover 100 percent of its investment in the development and launch of the satellite.

Boeing-built MexSat-1 (Centenario) was destroyed when a Russian Proton-M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 16, 2015 failed at 497 seconds after launch. International Launch Services (ILS) is the provider for Proton-M launch services.

The second of a planned constellation of three satellites for fixed and mobile communications called the MexSat system, Centenario was designed to meet national security and civil communication needs, including emergency services, tele-education, and tele-medicine. The first satellite in the constellation, MexSat-3 (Bicentenario), was successfully launched in December 2012.  According to an SCT press release, the third satellite, Morelos 3, is slated for an October 22, 2015, launch from Cape Canaveral through a service provided by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services.

During the press conference Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary of Communications and Transportation, emphasized that the key benefit of having these satellites is not being in the space age, but having the satellite services. For the country to expand in this high-technology area, Mexico will need to learn to live with its inherent risks, he added. SCT’s foresight in fully covering the satellite through private insurance means there is “no loss” for the government of the republic. Ruiz Esparza added that with the upcoming launch of the Morelos 3 satellite, the services that Centenario would have provided are “practically guaranteed.”

Mexico invested an estimated $400 million in Centenario, $90 million of which covered the launch service. Ruiz Esparza was asked to name the amount spent in insurance coverage, a figure he said he did not have on hand and would hesitate to share given the ongoing investigation. In response to a question about the selection of ILS as a launch provider despite the recent issues with the Proton rockets, Ruiz Esparza explained that the service was contracted in February 2012 and that rescinding on that contract would have led to a significant penalty of around $60 million.

A video of the press conference (in Spanish) is available on YouTube.

Editor’s note: English translations provided by Laura Delgado.

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