The first geostationary communications satellite of Bulgaria, BulgariaSat-1 is scheduled to be launched into the space aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the first quarter of 2017. To be placed at 2° east orbital position, the satellite will provide direct-to-home (DTH) television and data communication services in the Balkan region, Middle East, North America and Europe.

The satellite will be owned and operated by Bulgaria Sat, and is supported by a $150m development loan by the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM).

BulgariaSat-1 satellite design and development

Space Systems/Loral (SSL) was awarded a contract to provide design, assembly, integration and testing services for the BulgariaSat-1 in September 2014. SSL completed the electrical and mechanical components assembly for the satellite at its Palo Alto manufacturing facility located in California, in March 2016.

"The satellite will be owned and operated by Bulgaria Sat, and is supported by a $150m development loan by the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM)."

The satellite testing in thermal vacuum chamber was completed in April 2016. The environmental testing including vibration and acoustic testing was completed by August 2016. The satellite was shipped to Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) centre for the final tests in September 2016.

The tests will enable the satellite to withstand extreme conditions during the launch and in space.

Based on the LS1300 satellite platform manufactured by SSL, BulgariaSat-1 is designed for a lifespan of 15 years and can provide services for up to 18 years. It will have a launch mass of 3,669kg and orbit the Earth at an altitude of 36,000km. The spacecraft includes two solar arrays, which will provide 10kW of power in the space.

BulgariaSat-1 satellite communication capabilities

BulgariaSat-1 satellite is equipped with two Ku-band fixed satellite service (FSS) transponders and 30 Ku-band broadcast satellite service (BSS) transponders. It will provide fixed satellite and advanced television services, including high-definition channels.

The satellite will carry a spot beam with coverage across areas such as the Balkan region, Turkey, West and East Europe, as well as Middle East, North Africa and Caucus. It will provide real-time, high-speed, broadband satellite communications for businesses and corporate communications.

BulgariaSat-1 satellite launch vehicle details

BulgariaSat-1 will be launched atop Falcon 9 rocket, with the launch operations managed by SpaceX. The two-stage rocket will launch the satellite into the super-synchronous transfer orbit (SSTO).

The first stage of the rocket will be equipped with nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks carrying liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant, while the second stage will be powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine.

The launch will be performed at Cape Canaveral in Florida, US.

Marketing commentary on Bulgaria Sat

Headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria Sat is an an affiliate of Bulsatcom. The company provides satellite communications solutions to broadcast, telecom, corporate and government customers. Bulsatcom offers pay-TV services, including more than 100 digital TV channels across Bulgaria.