The Hong Kong-based consortium, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company, was the most important deregulated private sector enterprise in Hong Kong. The company, which included China's International Trust and Investment Corporation, Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong and Cable and Wireless of Britain, entered the commercial telecommunications market in 1990 with the launch of Asiasat 1. Based on Hughes HS-376 platform, Asiasat 1 had been flown in 1984 as Westar6, but a perigee kick motor malfunction allowed it to be retrieved by the U.S. Shuttle, refurbished, and reflown (see also Indonesia's Palapa B2R). Asiasat 1 marked China's first commercial space launch when a CZ-3 booster placed the spacecraft in a geostationary transfer orbit on 7 April 1990. Asiasat 1 carries 30 low-power, 6/4 GHz transponders of which as many as 24 are active. The on-orbit mass of the satellite at 105.5 degrees E is just over 600 kg.
From its orbital slot above Singapore, Asiasat can service users in China, Japan, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Broadcasting the Star TV service 24 hours a day Asiasat broke through national regulatory structures for television programs. Within the footprint of the satellite, from Kabul to Hokkaido, video, audio, and data signals can be exchanged with the use of three meter dishes.
A more capable Asiasat 2 was launched on 28 November 1995 by a Long March 2E Based on a Lockheed-Martin 7000 spacecraft bus, Asiasat 2 was a 3-axis stabilized with an initial launch mass of 3.5 metric tons and will carry a payload of 24, 55-W, 6/4GHz and 9, 115-W 14/12 GHz transponders. Asiasat 2 will be parked at 100.5 degrees E, following an agreement with Thailand to avoid radio interference. (References 79-82). The in-orbit loss of the AT&T Telstar 402 satellite contributed to a year-long delay in the launch of the similar AsiaSat 2. This delay postponed the inauguration of Rupert Murdoch's Star Network package of 30- digitally encrypted channels of television programming.
The AsiaSat 3 satellite, launched on 25 December 1997 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, did not reach orbit when the upper stage of the Proton rocket failed. The replacement AsiaSat 3S is identical to AsiaSat 3, and is planned for launch in the first quarter of 1999 by a Proton D-1-e. AsiaSat 3S will be a Hughes HS601HP model with a 15-year operational life, carrying 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band high-powered linearised transponders.
In May 1998 Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings (AsiaSat) decided to postpone until the year 2000 the launch of AsiaSat 4, due to a decrease in demand for satellite telecommunication services. On 28 May 2002 AsiaSat-4 was launched on an Atlas 3B from Florida.
On November 22, 2004 AsiaSat accused the Falungong cult, that has been outlawed on the Chinese mainland, of hijacking its satellite and disrupting its normal signal sending. "At 20:05:54 p.m. on Nov. 20 this year, malicious signals containing Falungong promotion contents intercepted the K7V transponder aboard the AsiaSat 3S satellite of the company. "We were forced to shut it down at 20:18:56 on Nov. 20 till 00:35 on Nov. 21." said a statement released by the Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd (AsiaSat). As a result, the normal broadcast by the Beijing Municipal TV and the Tianjin Municipal TV, which chartered the transponder according to commercial contracts, were disrupted and had to be stopped, it said. "The act of attacking a civil satellite has seriously violated international pacts on telecommunications and internationally recognized norms.
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) announced March 16, 2005 that the transmissions of its satellite were deliberately interrupted by illegal signals, reportedly carrying content related to Falungong. The company expressed its strong condemnation of the incident at a press conference here. Falungong, an evil cult, was banned in China. Six C-band transponders on an AsiaSat 3S satellite were interrupted by illegal transmissions carrying Falungong-related content at 9:34 p.m. Monday, which caused a break in service of TV programming on several provincial TV channels in Chinese mainland, the company said in a statement.
By 2005 Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (Asiasat) operated three in-orbit geostationary satellites, Asiasat 2 (located in 100. 5E), Asiasat 3S (located in 105.5E) and Asiasat 4 (located in 122.2E), high-power regional satellites providing satellite telecommunication and TV broadcasting services over Asia-Pacific areas.
AsiaSat-6, was sent into space atop the Long March 3B rocket from the launch center in Xichang in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 8 PM on April 13, 2005. A spokesperson for the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology said it was the 84th successful flight for Long March since its maiden voyage in 1970 and the 42nd consecutive one since October 1996. The launch, for Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Limited, represented the return of Chinese rockets to the international commercial launch market after an absence of seven years, said the spokesperson. AsiaSat-6, which has 50 transponders, replaced AsiaSat-1 A and would be followed by the launch of another satellite for APT Satellite, AsiaSat-6B.
On February 14, 2007 State-owned conglomerate China International Trust & Investment Corp (CITIC) and GE Capital Equity Investments Ltd offered to take over Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd (AsiaSat) through a joint venture subsidiary. The offer, aimed to privatize AsiaSat, involved a bid as high as HK$2.24 billion that would be financed by existing resources of CITIC Group and GE Equity. The offer was made through Modern Day Ltd, a venture jointly owned by CITIC Group and GE Equity, according to an AsiaSat statement yesterday.
"On completion of the acquisition and the privatization, AsiaSat will be jointly and indirectly owned by CITIC Group and General Electrical Capital Corporation," AsiaSat said in its statement. Modern Day planned to delist AsiaSat once the purchase is completed. According to AsiaSat, the sale is the result of "persistent oversupply of transponder capacity and the slow introduction of new applications in the Asia-Pacific region".
"The satellite market in the region remains very competitive, and AsiaSat's share price has not performed satisfactorily," the telecom and satellite service provider said. The price of AsiaSat's shares had plunged 11.9 percent over the past three years. The proposed privatization would provide AsiaSat with greater flexibility to focus on its core business, the company said. It would also relieve AsiaSat of the heavy financial and administrative burdens resulting from dual listings on both the Hong Kong and the New York stock exchanges, AsiaSat said.
In June 2009 EchoStar Corporation (Nasdaq: SATS) and Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat), a wholly owned subsidiary of Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited (HKSE:1135), formed a joint venture for the delivery of a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television service to Taiwan and other targeted regions in Asia. The satellite TV service will broadcast from AsiaSat 4, providing a wide variety of audio and video channels in an all digital format distributed directly to consumer homes via a small satellite antenna and a digital set-top box. EchoStar, bringing more than 25 years of experience in satellite television and consumer pay television operations, is leveraging its DTH operations expertise and award-winning set-top box technology to deliver superior television to Asian viewers.
On 24 March 2011, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited announced its 2010 annual results for the year ended 31 December 2010. According to the Annual Report, while economic uncertainty continued to blight many parts of the world, it would appear that AsiaSat’s markets in the Asia-Pacific region generally had stabilized. The strength of the last six months enhanced the strong figures of the first half to set the 2010 year-end record. Turnover in 2010 was HK$1,456 million, an increase of HK$293 million, 25% up from the previous year. The profit attributable to shareholders for 2010 was HK$695 million, up 32%.
During 2010, AsiaSat’s in-orbit satellites performed well and delivered excellent service to its customers. As reported, a new satellite AsiaSat 7, formerly named AsiaSat 5C, was under construction in the U.S. and is progressing well, anticipated to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The satellite is being built by Space Systems/Loral on the SS/L 1300 series satellite platform and will have a performance similar to that of AsiaSat 5. As at end of 2010, the total number of transponders leased and sold on the company’s satellites, (excluding the former AsiaSat 2, now called AMOS-5i and leased to a single customer for exclusive use), increased to 97 (31 December 2009: 85). The overall utilization rate was 73% (2009: 65%). This figure included the six Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) transponders dedicated to our DTH service and three transponders allocated for occasional use and Satellite News Gathering (SNG) services.
Hong Kong-based AsiaSat, which is majority-owned by General Electric Co. (GE) of the United States and China’s government-owned CITIC Ltd. investment group, said it foresees no business repercussions from its failure to privatize itself in July 2012. Shareholders owning 75 percent of AsiaSat had backed a removal of the company from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. But only independent shareholders unassociated with GE or with CITIC were allowed to vote, and an overwhelming percentage of them rejected the proposal. It was the second time in five years that GE and CITIC had made the attempt.
By August 2012 AsiaSat operated four satellites in geostationary orbit following the recent retirement of the AsiaSat 2 spacecraft. AsiaSat 7, the company’s newest fleet addition, entered service in January but will not be needed to replace the AsiaSat 3S until 2014. For AsiaSat, the question was whether a temporary role may be found for the satellite while it waited for AsiaSat 3S to be taken out of service. Several satellite operators around the world were known to be looking for satellites that could inhabit a given orbital slot for 90 days — long enough to register the slot as being “in use” under current international regulatory rules — before being moved elsewhere.
AsiaSat had two satellites under construction, both by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., and both scheduled for launch in 2014 aboard Falcon 9 rockets operated by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. AsiaSat signed a contract with International Launch Services of Reston, Va., for a launch of one of these two satellites in the event a SpaceX launch is delayed, or for a future satellite if SpaceX keeps to the planned launch dates. International Launch Services (ILS) contracted by Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. (AsiaSat) to launch AsiaSat 6, AsiaSat 8 or AsiaSat 9 on an ILS Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome as early as 2014, the companies confirmed 22June 2012. The launch contract includes an option for AsiaSat to order one additional launch service from ILS for any of its upcoming three satellites. “We have relied on the professionalism and precision of the ILS and Khrunichev teams to launch our satellites over the past 13 years,” AsiaSat President and CEO William Wade said in a statement. “This launch service contract with ILS Proton will allow the timely provision of additional high-quality and comprehensive satellite services to our customers. We anticipate that ILS and Khrunichev will again provide us outstanding quality and value to support our business plan.”
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