Antonov Airlines transported the outsized Satellite from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), to Cayenne, French Guiana, on board one of its An-124-100 aircraft. Al Yah 3 is a GEOStar-3 satellite, manufactured by Virginia-based Orbital ATK. The satellite required transport in a container that measured 11.4 meters long, 4.6 meters wide, and 4.1 meters high, and weighed 23 tonnes.
The satellite is scheduled for launch into geostationary transfer orbit on Jan. 25. The Al Yah satellite will be operated by Al Yah Satellite Communications Co., a UAE-based outfit wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government.
Once in orbit, the all-Ka-band spacecraft will provide broadband communications reaching 60 percent of Africa’s population and more than 95 percent of Brazil’s.
“Due to the size and weight of the cargo, we used a low-profile ramp system – specifically designed and manufactured by Antonov for the satellite and space transportation sector, to safely and efficiently load and offload the satellite,” said Amnon Ehrlich, Antonov’s director of sales for North America.
Antonov also recently opened an office in Houston, as part of its global expansion/reorientation away from Russia in the wake of Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, and ongoing aggression towards the carrier’s home country of Ukraine.
The carrier/manufacturer is already working with Western and Middle Eastern backers to retain its position in the heavy-lift segment. Last March, the first Ukrainian plane built without Russian components, the Antonov AN-132D, undertook its first test flight.