After internal Israeli political pressure over national strategic concerns forced the necessary funding, the new AMOS-8 communications satellite for the Israeli satellite operator Space Communication (Amos Spacecom) had its construction confirmed on 3 September as being with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI). In doing so, the satellite has effectively jumped ship from its originally planned manufacturer SSL (formerly known as Space Systems/Loral), which has yet formally to confirm the move which would also cancel a launch reservation on Falcon 9.The satellite will replace the AMOS-6 that was destroyed in a Falcon 9 on pad test explosion. It was originally announced in March that it would be built by the Maxar-owned SSL.
This is the latest blow to SSL, once venerated as the most successful of the commercial communications manufacturers. Along with other manufacturers, it has suffered a serious downturn in its geostationary business as the overall market has dried up in favour of the latest trend towards LEO and other orbit constellations. While some satellite constructors, such as Lockheed Martin, are insulated to some extent by their military and government satellite business, SSL more or less relies on the commercial satellite market. As result, Maxar, SSL’s parent company, is now seriously considering shutting down SSL and its Palo Alto plant. Other alternatives being explored include partnering with other constructors or selling the firm completely. Maxar detailed these alternatives earlier this year. See Space News report here.