First Egyptian direct television satellite, NILESAT 101 (code: 1998-024A), was build by the French company Matra Marconi Space. Launched on 28 Avril 1998 from Kourou (French Guyana) by an Ariane 44P rocket, it has a mass of 1,666 kg for a span of 22 meter (solar panels extended).

Nilesat 101 became operational on 1st June 1998. Its contractual life-span is 12 years. It has been positioned on a geostationary orbit at 7 degrees West at an altitude of 36,000 km.

With 12 transponders (and 6 pare ones), Nilesat 101 has, in addition to audio and data channels, a broadcasting capacity of 84 TV channels to home receivers using small dish antennas (60 cm diameter). It covers the Arab world, from Morocco to the Arab states in the Gulf as well as some parts of southern Europe.

Nilesat S.A. has already contracted three transponders to the Egyptian Radio & Television Union, two to ART Network, while two others have been reserved to two Arab countries’ national televisions.

The Egyptian authorities hold 20% of the capital of the Nilesat company. The company, quoted on the stock exchange, also includes the Egyptian Radio and Television, which holds 40% of the shares, together with banks and Egyptian private investors.

In March 1999, Nilesat S.A. ordered a second satellite from Matra Marconi. This second satellite, NILESAT 102, will be fully operational in the third quarter 2000 and will be able of transmitting more than 100 channels of digital television to dish antennas of only 60 cm diameter. Its coverage zone will be the same as Nilesat 101’s. With an in-orbit life of 15 years, NILESAT 102 will also be slightly heavier than Nilesat 101 (1,800 kg).