The Angosat-2 communications satellite
After the 2017 loss of the original communications satellite built by Russia for Angola, Moscow confirmed its obligation to build a replacement spacecraft. However, after nearly two years of negotiations, the Angolan government decided to switch the prime contractor for the satellite from RKK Energia in Korolev to ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk at the end of 2019, industry sources said.
As the Angosat-1 satellite was pronounced a total loss on April 28, 2019, the Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technologies of Angola José Carvalho de Rocha told the Jornal de Angola newspaper that his government had accepted a proposal from Roskosmos to built a replacement spacecraft for Angosat-1. The Russian side reportedly promised that the construction of the Angosat-2 satellite would take no longer than 18 months and the replacement vehicle would have better technical capabilities than its predecessor. For example, the new satellite would be able to provide specialized services for the "Internet of things."
At the same time, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev was quoted as saying that the spacecraft would be built in 30 months beginning on April 24, 2018.
According to Angolan and Russian officials, part of the cost for the construction of Anogsat-2 would be covered with a $121-million insurance payment for the loss of Angosat-1 and the rest would be paid by the Russian government. Russia's State Enterprise for Satellite Communications, GPKS, also promised to provide Angola with capacity in C- and Ku-band on operating communications satellites, such as Ekspress-AM7 and Eutelsat-3B, while the replacement for the Angosat-1 was in the works. Finally, Russia promised to support operations of the ground control center in Funda, Angola.
The Angosat-2 satellite was expected to resemble Ekspress-80 (above) completed at ISS Reshetnev in 2019.
Despite claims in the official Russian press as late as January 2020 about the ongoing development of the Angosat-2 satellite at RKK Energia, industry sources told RussianSpaceWeb.com that, in fact, Roskosmos had transferred the project to ISS Reshetnev in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the company has already began full-scale work on the spacecraft in early 2020. The agreement called for the delivery of the satellite in just 24 months, according to industry sources.
The communications payload for Angosat-2 had already been sub-contracted to the European consortium Airbus Defense and Space and the same company was apparently bidding for the development of the power-supply system for the project to replace the hardware from RKK Energia which doomed Angosat-1.
On January 21, 2020, the TASS news agency reported that the Angolan government was choosing the prime contractor for the Angosat-2 project between RKK Energia and ISS Reshetnev. However, on the same day, the TASS also quoted Sergei Dubik, Deputy Director at Roskosmos, as saying that the Angosat-2 satellite had been in production and that, according to the Head of RKK Energia Nikolai Sevastyanov, the spacecraft would be ready by the end of 2021. Around the same time, the reports in the Angolan press reported the readiness of the satellite at 50 percent.
The switch of the prime contractor in the Angosat-2 project could mark the end of communications satellite development at RKK Energia, leaving ISS Reshetnev as the only Russian company in the nation producing that type of spacecraft. After pioneering the development of communications satellites in the USSR in the 1960s, RKK Energia re-entered the field in the 1990s with its Yamal series, however, the project had experienced a number of major setbacks.
For the Angosat-2 project, ISS Reshetnev planned to rely heavily on the company's Ekspress-1000 satellite bus or one of its deriviatives, which had previously served as a basis for a number of Russian spacecraft and for satellites built by Reshetnev for foreign customers. To accelerate the development of Angosat-2 even further, the company also hoped to emulate as closely as possible the Ekspress-80 and Ekspress-103 satellites, which came off its assembly line in 2019.
As of mid-2020, the launch of Angosat-2 was expected on a Proton rocket. In October of 2020, ISS Reshetnev said that it had shipped a payload platform for Angosat-2 to Airbus facility in Europe for installation of the communications payload. The payload platform would then return to Reshetnev for the integration with the service module of the spacecraft, the company said.
Artist rendering of the Angosat ground control station in Angola circa 2014, which was expected to occupy 6,617 square meters. The main 1,978-square-meter building was designed to accommodate 45 technicians and featured an underground parking lot for 50 vehicles. Credit: 2K
Angosat-2 under assembly at ISS Reshetnev circa October 2020.