Satellites Space

Hope Restored for the Indonesian SATRIA broadband satellite following the government receiving funds

Indonesia’s government has a reason to smile since it has acquired funds to facilitate the completion of the SATRIA broadband satellite manufacture. Its development commenced in September, and the firm in charge of it is the Thales Alenia Space. According to the manufacturer’s spokesperson Sandrine Bielecki, the only available money was only a portion of what was needed to complete it by the time the project commenced. The money helped with the continuity of the project, but it finished, eventually.

According to Bielecki, there are low chances of any interruptions of the project’s progress since it has received additional funding of around $545 million. The involved parties have Bpifrance, a France-based export-credit agency, to thank for a portion of the funding. The project has been in operation since September, and over the period, it has achieved several milestones as far as designs are concerned.

Some of the funding is through equity, whereas approximately $431 million in debt. According to the Pacific Satelit Nusantara (PSN), a local satellite operator providing equity via partnerships between private and public sectors, Bpifrance will be guaranteeing loans from Korea Development Bank (KDB) Banco Santander, and HSBC. The project commitments from KDB and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are $126 million and $150 million, respectively. On Feb 26, a virtual ceremony was held, and that’s where the completion of the financing documents took place. Its venue was the Presidential Palace f Indonesia and its president Joko Widodo was in attendance.

SATRIA, upon completion, will change Indonesia’s internet connectivity offering a speed of over 150 GB per second. It will connect public buildings, 40,000 hospitals, and 90,000 schools, consequently reducing the country’s digital divide. For regional government offices not within any satellite or terrestrial network, the project will also facilitate the necessary connection.

As a matter of fact, Thales Alenia Space won the contract of developing SATRIA back in July 2019. However, an agreement to commence working on it happened more than a year later, in Sep 2020, due to financial constraints. Due to the delay, SATRIA missed a deadline from the regulatory body to begin services by March 2022 from its orbital slot, 146 degrees east. International Telecommunication Union, which is in charge of orbital slots regulation, has received a request for a deadline extension from Indonesia’s government. Its excuse for an extension was the disruption following the outbreak of the coronavirus global pandemic.

The government is also open to other options since SATRIA’s launch may delay March 2023 to later than a year. It would discard the orbital filing and start the process afresh. Another possibility is using the slot but for another spacecraft.