SpaceX, Telkomsat join forces to enhance Indonesia’s telecom infrastructure

21 Feb 2024

Business News

Image source: Screenshot SpaceX


SpaceX has launched an Indonesian telecommunications satellite on February 20, 2024, marking another successful collaboration between Indonesia and Elon Musk’s company. 


The satellite’s rocket Falcon 9 lifted off precisely from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, as scheduled for the Telkomsat Merah Putih 2 mission. The launch follows the deployment of another satellite for Telkomsat, SATRIA-1, in June, 2023. 


Merah Putih 2, boasting a capacity of up to 32 Gbps, carries active transponders in C-band and Ku-band frequencies, providing comprehensive coverage across Indonesia. The satellite, built on the Spacebus 4000B2 platform with a 15-year design life by Thales Alenia Space, involves collaboration with Indonesia’s state-owned insurance company Jasindo for risk assurance and Canada-based communications satellite company Telesat as a consultant. 


The satellite’s design aims to address challenges posed by the country's equatorial climate, particularly high rainfall, making it a potentially reliable broadband satellite. Telkom's Director of Wholesale & International Service, Bogi Witjaksono, outlined three key missions for Merah Putih 2: enhancing national digital infrastructure resilience, securing and maintaining orbital slots, and expanding satellite business capacity. 


The collaboration is a rare case of a western company making headway in Indonesia where Chinese companies have had a dominating presence.  


Nia Satwika, SATRIA-1 project manager, praised SpaceX's cost-effectiveness and launch availability, emphasizing their rocket part reuse as a significant advantage, calling the company "a game changer”, as quoted by Reuters. 


Indonesian President Joko Widodo himself have had direct contacts with Mr. Musk, who is also the founder of electric car manufacturer (EV) Tesla, in the former’s effort to jumpstart an EV production ecosystem in the archipelago.  


During Mr. Widodo’s visit to SpaceX’s Texas facility in mid-2022, Starlink, a part of SpaceX, also became a point of discussion, which led to Telkomsat receiving Starlink’s landing rights. However, this does not mean that Indonesia will be having Starlink as an internet provider as the company is restricted to only operating a backhaul service through Telkomsat, as clarified by Indonesia's communication ministry. 


Elon Musk's discussions with Indonesian officials about investment opportunities, including those related to Tesla, continue still, according to Widodo's spokesperson, Dwipayana, following the initial talks during the president's meeting with Musk in May 2022.