Telkom may lose $200m over satellite launch fiasco
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A satellite belonging to PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) has reportedly gone missing after a Russian-made rocket carrying the satellite malfunctioned during the launch process on Monday.
The satellite, dubbed the Telkom 3, along with a Russian satellite, Russian Express MD2, failed to reach orbit after jetting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday night.
The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) reported that the failure to reach orbit was due to the malfunctioning of the Briz-M, a booster found on the Russian-made Proton-M rocket carrier, on which both satellites traveled.
Russian International News Agency (RIA Novosti) reported that the chances that the satellites would separate from the booster were “practically non-existent”. It later reported that following the incident, Roscosmos planned to suspend future launches utilizing the Proton-M rocket carriers with the Briz-M booster, produced by Khrunichev Research and the State Production Center.
Telkom spokesman Slamet Riyadi said that the company was still awaiting “official confirmation” from their “Russian counterparts” on the incident, and could not comment on the terms and conditions of the launch, including insurance matters.
He added that PT Telkom had spent roughly US$200 million to purchase and launch the satellite.
Ria Novosti reported that both of the satellites were insured by Russian Ingosstrakh and Alfa Strakhovanie, with coverage worth 225 million rubles (US$7.1 million) for Telkom.
Telkom-3 was the first Russian-made satellite Indonesia has ever bought. Telkom has previously launched two satellites, Telkom-1 and Telkom-2. Made in 1997 by US-based Lockheed Martin, Telkom-1 is currently utilized for television broadcasts, while Telkom-2 was built by another US-based satellite manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and was launched in 2005.
Telkom decided to launch the third satellite to provide support for the other two satellites, which ran on fuel supplies with enough for a certain number of years, also known as “mission life”. However, Slamet noted that Telkom-2 still had mission life.
“Telkom-3 was to replace Telkom-2 before the latter ran out of mission life,” he said, adding that Telkom-3 was equipped with more transponders – a device for receiving radio signals – than Telkom-2.
Communications and Information Ministry spokesman, Gatot S. Dewabroto, pointed out that the loss of the satellite would not cause telecommunication problems, given that Telkom had other up and running satellites.
“They can still handle operations well,” he said, adding that the company needed a “Plan B” following the incident. However, he pointed out that the ministry would not become involved in proceedings between the company and its Russian counterparts following the failure to launch. “This is strictly a business-to-business affair,” he said.